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Essay, Paragraph or Speech on “Reservation in the Private Sector” Complete Essay, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Reservation in the Private Sector

Economic policy-making based on castes has become a necessity in India. It arises from the failure of the so-called modern governance since Independence. Modern governance based on authentic engagement should have engendered a modern nation wherein caste is not a facilitator of economic advancement.

Authentic governance would have engendered a nation wherein caste is not a barrier to economic advancement. But sociologists, development economists and political leaders have evaluated caste as a probable ally of the privileged and as a definite burden of the economic underclass. The presence of a very large economic underclass is a threat to rapid economic development, hopes and aspirations, and social harmony in India. Furthermore, an economic underclass of such magnitude is peculiar to India. It is very young. India’s demography is distinctly different from that of, say, China. Comparisons with China become inevitable, even if boring, in these circumstances.

First, the ratio of the employed to those that are dependent on the employed is about 50 per cent more in China than in India. Why? Fewer people are employed or self-employed in India; for every employed or self-employed person, more are dependent in India than in China. The dependents in India have impaired access, if at all, to education, health care and any form of social security. The Central and State Governments in India are too poor and helpless to offer any hope or help to the dependents.

Second, the young constitute a very large part of the dependent class. More than 50 per cent of India’s population is aged below 25. Their literacy level is just over 74 per cent. More than 65 per cent of the young are ‘stuck in the villages.

The Central and State Governments in India are preoccupied high-wage islands that are too saturated to offer any gainful employment to the young. They have little reason to appreciate how they have stymied the hopes of the young. The young are impressionable. Despair and despondency come as easily to them as hope and optimism. If the young can be nurtured on honest hope, they will make a positive impact on the course of social and economic development. The key to stoking hope and optimism lies in opening up as many employment opportunities to them as possible. If their hopes are sustained, they will reinforce India’s considerable depth in world-class human resources.

It makes no difference if we make an honest beginning with a placebo. Reservation in the private sector could stoke hope and optimism. At its worst, it will be a placebo. A placebo is a medication that is made of an inert substance. Placebos are prescribed to provide mental relief. They are most useful in the treatment of economic disorders and ironies.

Many Ironies

Castes originated many millennia ago and were aimed at accomplishing economic objectives. They evolved from authoritarian engagement within society, and as a response to the fulfillment of individual and collective economic needs. What is peculiar is that the practice of castes in modern times is not based on any “written constitution”, police, laws, courts, and rewards and penalties.

Castes propagate themselves. They have been accepted, enforced and practiced through a ritualistic system of engagement. As a result, castes require passive compliance. There is no compulsion for anyone to cling on to any one caste. There are no penalties for crossing over to another caste. Quite clearly, regardless of the burdens and the handicaps that it imposes, the caste system works on voluntary compliance. Nevertheless, so many millions willingly work with the burdensome economic handicaps.

The ritualistic practice of caste is unrelated to the value chains pertinent to modern economic activity. Castes serve no definitive economic purpose in an era of silicon chips, artificial intelligence, robots, unmanned spaceships and aeroplanes, stem-cell research, pasteurised milk and employee-owned companies. Nevertheless, the government is involved in a struggle with caste-driven poverty. It is perhaps losing too.

The irony is that it has access to a range of legitimate powers. But it has been unable to use these powers to use government and public institutions to root out caste-driven poverty.

That it now seeks to reserve jobs in the private sector says much about , government’s limitations and about the authentic engagement that India’s private sector can provide. The private sector could surely regard this as an acknowledgement of its remarkable capability to cope with complexity without losing effectiveness and integrity.

One Organic Analogy

Energy from organic fuels is released when they combine with oxygen extracted from air. Hydrocarbons locked in organic fuels burn methodically to combine with oxygen. The combustion produces enormous energy; it is characterised by method and science.

Fuels need a ‘spark’ that sets fire to them. Without the spark, the combination of fuel and air will merely be cosmetic and physical. To be sure, the mixture will be inert and useless. The spark makes the vital difference. Hydrocarbons then combine with exact amounts of oxygen drawn from the air. Every unit of combustible hydrocarbon requires an exact amount of oxygen. If there is too much oxygen, the oxygen is wasted. If there is too little oxygen, the hydrocarbon is wasted. The organic fuel rots.

Starved of Oxygen

Government is the principal economic facilitator of every country. It is the oxygen. Households and businesses are the organic fuels. Good policies are the sparks. When households and businesses receive the right amount of oxygen and sparks, they produce dazzling results. Economic output surges. When the supply of oxygen is cut, the economy sags. Households and businesses rot.

Towards growing the aggregate economy, India needs a massive supply of oxygen from the government sector but cannot ‘afford’ it because of the high modal income ratio of 5.08. (For a discussion of the relationship between the modal income ratio and per capita income, see “The DNA of India’s poverty”, Business Line, August 14.) India’s economy is emaciated because it pays a lot more to its government sector than it receives.

India also needs a massive expansion of public infrastructure aimed at growing the aggregate economy but cannot find internal surpluses of a large magnitude. Why? A very large part of the private sector’s savings and taxes is utilized towards paying the government sector’s present and past employees and towards paying interest on borrowings. But the private sector cannot grow without the wide range of relevant economic and social services from the government sector. If the private sector could grow on its own, the government sector would have become redundant among the market-economy adherents, and at least in the US. It has not. Its continued relevance and growth serve to remind us of the critical role played by the government sector.

The Economic Rot

India needs a bigger government sector but cannot afford it. Oxygen from government is very expensive. This explains the massive unemployment and poverty; and why India’s per capita income in purchasing power terms is among the lowest in the world. The rot is the result of India’s high modal income ratio, the highest in the world.

India employs a very small part of its total workforce in its government sector; which nominally provides a wide and extraordinary range of services, but employs only about 10 per cent of the total workforce. France, if it were as populous and ‘efficient’ as India, would employ at least 37 per cent of its workforce in the government sector to provide the same range of services. The US would employ at least 24 per cent of its workforce to provide the same range of public services and defence. Therefore, from the perspective of linear proportionality, India’s government sector is the global paragon of efficiency. India accomplishes a whole lot with a very small government sector in terms of headcount.

But there is a catch. India’s government sector extracts a whole lot as salaries, perquisites and post-retirement payouts per employee. Employment in the government sector is a privilege. It cannot be expanded because it is very costly. Any increase in the headcount in the government sector could lead to a reduction in the per capita emoluments of employees in the government sector.

Gold for All?

This explains in part why many political parties have eagerly sought ‘reservation’ for the weaker classes in India’s private sector. If new job-seekers were absorbed by the private sector, the affordability issue pertinent to the government sector would be obviated.

At the same time, reservation in India’s private sector would stir significant hope among the young in the economic underclass. They would root for the rapid growth of the private sector and its stability.

They may begin to appreciate the real causes of poverty and may become the new advocates for expanding the role of the private sector. They may seek a better and larger supply of oxygen from government. Above all, they would realize that breaking the shackles of caste is easier done than discussed.

Need for Affirmative Action not Reservation

The issue of equality is fundamentally political. Harold Laswell’s definition of politics as “who gets what, when, and why” captures the core reality. In regard to reservation of jobs in the private sector, the Common Minimum Programme says: The UPA Government is very sensitive to the issue of affirmative action, including reservations in the private sector. It will immediately initiate a national dialogue with all political parties, industry and other organisations to see how best the private sector can fulfill the aspirations of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes youth.

Quota in Premier Institutions

The CMP has come fully alive in recent weeks, thanks to the pronouncements of the Human Resource Development Minister and the Prime Minister respectively on reservation, of seats, in the premier higher education institutions and jobs in the private sector. Specifically, the Government would like to extend the 22.5 per cent quota in jobs for SC/ST candidates, hitherto limited to the public sector, to the private sector, and wants the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institutes of Management and all federally funded universities to reserve 27 per cent of their seats for Other Backward Castes (OBC), over and above the 22.5 per cent quota for SC/ST students.

Much heat has been generated by the proposal to reserve 49.5 per cent of seats in ‘elite’ institutions of higher learning. Apart from the UPA manifesto that has put it on the agenda in general terms, in December 2005, Parliament approved the 104th Constitution Amendment Bill seeking reservation for SC, ST and OBC candidates in non-minority unaided private educational institutions.

Scope of Article 15 Enlarged

The Amendment enlarges the scope of Article 15 of the Constitution, which provided reservation of seats to SC, ST, and OBC students in government-aided educational institutions only. The Amendment would enable Parliament as well as the State Legislature to make appropriate laws for this purpose. Following the HRD Minister’s initiative, the Maharashtra Government approved, in April, a draft ordinance aimed at 49.5 per cent reservation in private professional institutions. Students across the country in private institutions and some experts in IITs and IIMs are not especially enthused by the new reservations policy.

The country has lived with the caste-based reservations for over five decades. The primary focus of reservations has been on the SCs/STs, up until a veteran politician brought the OBC issue to the fore. According to the data from the 2001 Census, the Scheduled Caste population accounted for 16.2 per cent of the total and the Scheduled Tribes 8.2 per cent. If the SC/STs, forming a quarter of the billion-plus Indians, continue to be left behind in terms of economic and social advancement, it is a disgrace for all of us who have allowed it to happen. In 2001, that is, five decades after the Constitution had come into force, the educational profiles of the SC and ST populations and the rest of India are not fully compatible and comparable.

High Level of Illiteracy

It is a sad commentary that the country as a whole has a high level of illiteracy, and SC/ST have even higher rates. Similarly, there is a tiny percentage of population with technical degrees and diplomas, which should be seen as a major problem in addition to the differences: 0.1 to 0.2 per cent of the SC/ST population versus 0.6 per cent for the rest.

Fortunately, there are encouraging signs. Of the 353 million in the 5-19 age group, those attending school was 59 per cent for the total, 55 per cent for SCs and 49 per cent for STs. The percentage attending school while doing work (main or marginal) was 1.7 per cent, for all, 1.6 per cent for SCs and 2.7 per cent for STs. The challenge is not limited to addressing the differences, however sharp; it is to also address across the board and for the whole country the problem of inadequate higher educational opportunities.

Expanding Higher Education

The Centre must come out with a comprehensive Higher Education Expansion Plan (HEEP), with the caste-based reservations being one element. The Plan should incorporate the sane advice of the President and increase places all round, including, as suggested by the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, setting up some 15 more new IIT-like institutions. The HEEP should also go into the mechanics of setting up and regulation of private institutions, including private universities, so as to safeguard student interests and not imposing such restrictions as would lead to corruption.

An important element of the HEEP should also be an irrevocable commitment on the part of all political parties to end the use of caste in public life by a certain date. Just as the reservation of seats in the Lok Sabha is to end in January 2010, we should aim for all educational and job quotas to cease by August 15, 2020. From then on, the caste of a person should be his or her private concern only.

Upgradation of Govt Schools

It is also worth mentioning that a strong tree can never come up on weak roots. Rural and urban government schools repel students and teachers alike, instead of attracting them. Government primary and secondary schools need upgradation (preferably on a standard architectural design) to such a level that the best teachers would not hesitate switching …from a posh private school to a newly-built government school. A hike in government teacher salaries too would help in attracting students and teachers.

As for private sector employment reservations for SC/ST, one should not forget the main challenge the sector is to face. On January 22, 2005, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, while delivering the inaugural address at the summit on “Indian CEOs: Competencies for Success,” warned Corporate India “against complacency and asked industry leaders to emulate the Chinese economic model and promised to remove all barriers to growth and create an environment to make Indian companies globally competitive” (The Hindu, January 23, 2005). Caste-based reservations in private sector employment may not be compatible with building global competencies.

Government should clear the ground by emphasising affirmative action and not reservations in private sector employment. The nature of affirmative action should be for the private sector to create facilities to train SC/STs to gain competencies and of course jobs by their own merit. If a private sector group were to set up exclusive facilities for upgrading skills of SC/ ST candidates, the Government should provide matching grants in a manner of private public partnership.

Ultimately, the fundamental issue is: Can we sustain social justice without social harmony? Can the Scheduled Castes and Tribes prosper forever without the goodwill of the others? Also, will these open tests fetch politicians more votes than extending reservation to the private sector?

They should also organize themselves under the new leadership evolved from amongst themselves (not depending on its old leadership which goes on changing its stance in view of its own personal benefits) and launch a movement to force the government to take decisive action in the matter and not pay only lip-service to their cause.


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