Thursday, November 16, 2006

>'Pvt sector might face legal action'

Corporate India did not share government's enthusiasm over reservation for SCs and STs in private sector jobs, while Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath virtually threatened to invoke the legislative path for implementing it if the industry drags its feet.

The industry's views were made clear at a meeting with senior government officials convened by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, where chamber representatives offered to voluntarily implement affirmative action like training of people belonging to depressed sections.

"We have made it clear that we are against quotas. We are against reservation. Any move to impose this through legislation will be unfortunate," J J Irani, chairman of CII Affirmative Action Council, said after the two-hour meeting.

The private sector reticence assume significance in the context of calls from key UPA ministers, including Ram Vilas Paswan (Steel) and A R Antulay (Minority Affairs) for making it mandatory for the industry to reserve jobs for the socially underprivileged.

Reacting to industry's stand, Nath said, "The legal option is always open if companies do not fulfill their commitments on affirmative action."

He said while the private sector had expressed certain reservations on implementation of the affirmative action, 'it must look beyond these concerns'.

The government, he said, would look at all options to ensure a balance between industry's concerns and the need for social justice.

Nath also said the country has embarked on a second stage of economic reforms that will enable the industry to take advantage of opportunities being offered globally.

"In the last 2-3 years our economy has maintained 8 per cent growth due to reforms that were initiated 15 years back. Now, we are on the second stage of calibrated and comprehensive liberalisation that will enable the Indian industry to take advantage of globalisation," Nath said.

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