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On the right track

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on January 17, 2018 Published on July 14, 2016

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Kochi Metro chugs in change for transgenders

In a move that could impact India’s gender landscape positively, Kochi Metro Rail Limited recently decided to employ transgenders in its customer care, crowd management and housekeeping sections. Though these outsourced services are not directly linked to KMRL’s payroll, the company’s move to accommodate people of the third gender is commendable given the precarious conditions in which transgenders live in the country. KMRL’s move is worthy of emulation by the corporate sector.

Historically, transgenders in India have found it extremely difficult to get jobs in the mainstream owing to reasons ranging from social taboos and customs, to strong prejudices dominating family and work spaces. This forces them to seek out careers in illegal circuits, triggering a vicious cycle of exploitation and abuse. According to the transgender census 2011, India has nearly 5 lakh transgender people — the real number is likely to be six to seven times that — and nearly half of them are illiterate. Even though several NGOs operate among people of the third gender, there are hardly any official programmes to support, educate and train transgenders who want to enter the mainstream job market. Recently, some State governments introduced schemes for transgenders. For instance, in 2014, Tamil Nadu allowed transgenders to join its home guard department. Odisha and Kerala give transgenders benefits such as pension, housing and food.

But that’s way short of what’s needed. Corporates should pitch in here to make a difference in terms of skills development. Often, companies say draconian laws such as Section 377 of the IPC make it difficult for them to offer jobs to people belonging to the LGBT community. It’s here KMRL’s move becomes important. The rail network says it will enhance its screening process with the help of law enforcement departments and impart training to transgender workers, making them fully reliable in their vocations. This will help the transgender community enhance its morale and unshackle itself from the myriad illegal ways its members are forced to earn their daily bread. That’ll be the best form of CSR that India Inc can offer.

Deputy Editor

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Published on July 14, 2016
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