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India Inc assures preference for SC/ST

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

Indian Inc today agreed to follow the principle of 'positive discrimination' in employing scheduled caste and scheduled tribe candidates in their
Other things being equal, SC/ST candidates will be given preference in employment, an approach that industry representatives say, should result in sizeable increase in employment of these persons in the organised sector.
This was the general agreement at the second meeting of the Coordination Committee to promote Affirmative Action in Indian Industry chaired by Prime Minister's Principal Secretary T K A Nair.
India Inc was represented by the heads of CII, Ficci, Assocham and other senior representatives of industry. The steps agreed to today would be reviewed after two months.
Industry also reiterated that it was opposed to any move to legislate job reservations in the private sector.
"The discussion revolved around affirmative action. The government did not press for reservation either," CII President Sunil Mittal told reporters after the meeting.
India Inc also agreed to include reporting of data on the new employment for SC/ST persons created during the year in the Code of Conduct being prescribed for their members.
However, FICCI Secretary General Amit Mitra told Business Standard that reporting such data should be made voluntary. "Forcing to disclose such data bears the risk of making it inaccurate," he said.
A government release said that FICCI has agreed to soon evolve a Code of Conduct on Affirmative Action for its members, after CII and Assocham said that they have already put such regulation in place.
It was also agreed that that an Ombudsman with regional benches would be set up by each apex chamber to monitor the compliance of the voluntary Code of Conduct by its members.
Industry chambers also agreed to top up financial incentives to ensure that the seats for SC/ST candidates in Industrial Training Institutes do not remain unfilled.
In a presentation, Ficci said that it would adopt 50 ITIs in the current year and graduate 5000 SC/ST students in equal partnership with the government.
"We told the government that it should continue with its stipend and we will top it up with an additional Rs 500 so that the loss of wage of the SC/ST students could be compensated," Mitra added.
Another element of affirmative action was to develop entrepreneurial abilities amongst SC/ST persons.
"However, we have urged the government to bring out a legislation following the US model so as to allow banks to offer loans to SC/ST entrepreneurs. As such loans will come under high risk capital, so government has to give loan guarantee to banks," Mitra said.
Assocham President Venugopal N. Dhoot proposed a 1 per cent education cess on corporate annual profits to provide elementary education for SCs/STs and other backward classes and sought incentives to set up industrial clusters in backward districts to provide them employment opportunities.
"The suggested 1 per cent education levy should be disbursed to relevant institutions following recommendations from Chambers of Commerce," he added.

First Published: Sun, July 15 2007. 00:00 IST