Economy

CII survey says India Inc. employs 18% Dalits

Divya Trivedi New Delhi | Updated on April 25, 2011

In the first such mapping exercise of its kind, industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has found that as much as 18 per cent of the work-force of its member companies are Dalits.

This was revealed by Mr B. Muthuraman, Vice-Chairman, Tata Steel Ltd, in his first interaction with media as CII's new President.

Internal surveys by CII revealed that about 16.2 per cent of the work force in the South, 22 per cent in the North, 16 per cent in the West and 24 per cent in the East are Dalits.

On the face of it, these numbers sound positive, but as Mr Muthuraman pointed out, most of them are employed in lowest grade jobs in companies and their numbers in the managerial and other higher posts are minimal or negligible.

Skills upgradation

We should have more skills upgradation programmes for them in order to scale up their jobs, he added. But he was against making affirmative action compulsory for companies. He said, “Nothing in life will work if made compulsory. We should learn from the US's positive discrimination.”

Leading sociologist, Professor Surinder S Jodhka welcomed the news, but added a word of caution. “We need to know the proportionate numbers — whether the employees surveyed are permanent or contractual. Also, there are variations in the types and categories of employees and the industries they are employed in,” he said. According to him, Dalits may be employed in large numbers at the low-level jobs in companies, but the problem is that discrimination happens at higher levels.

The former Chairman of the University Grants Commission and Economist Professor, Mr Sukhadeo Thorat, said, “I heard that CII conducted the survey, and that there are State-wise variations. But is the survey sample based? How have they mapped the employees? Will CII henceforth maintain a record of their employees' social backgrounds?”

Both Prof Jodhka and Prof Thorat urged that the report be made public by CII for more deliberations.

For the record, India Inc has been opposing government legislations on affirmative action for the private sector.

A few years ago, a CII-Assocham committee had been formed under Mr J.J. Irani, to prepare a report on what industry could do to deepen representation of weaker sections in Indian industry

Published on April 25, 2011

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