New Delhi : In a move that is sure to kick off a political storm, the National Commission for Backward Classes headed by Justice V Eswaraiah has advised  the enacting of a legislation that would make it mandatory for private entities, including cooperative and philanthropic organisations, to reserve 27% of all hiring for people from the so-called other backward classes (OBCs).

 “It has been a long-pending demand. Job opportunities in government and public sector are shrinking and it is the duty of the private sector to provide reservation to marginalised sections of the society,”  said NCBC member Shakeel-uz-Zaman Ansari who confirmed that the commission  has forwarded the recommendation to the department of personnel and training (DoPT) and the social justice ministry.

 Ansari is a known Congress activist, but the party has all along maintained a studied silence on this subject. However, even some positive noises from the BJP or the NDA government in this respect could have far-reaching socio-political consequences ahead of the state assembly elections Uttar Pradesh next year.

 Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan had recently raked up the demand for reservation in the private sector but the move when implemented, can potentially trigger howls of protest from industry bodies which have consistently opposed any form of legislative job reservation system and favoured a voluntary “affirmative action” initiative to offer opportunities to such people.

 The number of people employed in the government has fallen from 18.2 million in 2006 to 17.6 million in 2012, according to official estimates, a decline of 3.3%. This compares poorly with job creation in the private sector that has added an additional 3.13 million jobs during the period— a 35.7% growth from 8.77 million in 2006 to 11.9 million in 2012.

Private companies largely follow their own hiring rules based on specific skill and industry needs. For instance, the top blue chip private companies mostly make their fresh recruitments from business schools and engineering campuses, as opposed to state-owned enterprises that have to reserve jobs for people

from the scheduled castes (SCs), scheduled tribes (STs) and OBCs. The commission has said that private companies have been taking a large number of benefits from the government and “every possible advantage for its growth but sufficient candidates” from the SC, ST and OBC categories were not getting entry into the private sector.

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