A meeting of the Coordination Committee on Affirmative Action has been held in the Prime Minister’s Office, under the chairmanship of the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister. It was attended by the representatives of the three national Chambers of Industry: FICCI, CII and ASSOCHAM. Representatives of key Ministries such as Industrial Policy & Promotion, Social Justice & Empowerment and Tribal Affairs also attended the meeting.
In the meeting, progress was reviewed on affirmative action for SCs/STs. It was noted that some progress had been made in adopting the Voluntary Code of Conduct and running skill development and vocation education programs to improve the employability of weaker sections.
FICCI has adopted Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh which has more than 47% population of SCs/STs. Two initiatives have been undertaken by FICCI recently. First, in partnership with IL&FS, two skill development training centres were opened and an employment centre would also be opened soon. It was mentioned that 39 companies under FICCI have adopted the Voluntary Code of Conduct (VCC) so far. ASSOCHAM informed that they have a National Council of Affirmative Action and programmes were organized to sensitize their industry members on affirmative action. ASSOCHAM has taken a decision that it would prepare an annual report every year on the subject.
The representative of CII said that their organization is committed to working on the four E’s i.e. education, employability, employment and entrepreneurship. They were of the view that any programme on affirmative action should have economic targets. It was also stated that the employment data with the CII may not reflect the actual status of SCs/STs employment in the private companies because many of the members do not maintain data caste wise although they are employing people from the target group. Their own studies show that the percentage of employees from SCs/STs is between 16% to 24% and depends on the educational development of the region. CII also suggested having ‘Aadhaar’ cards as the only identity card for beneficiaries amongst SC/ST population.
Officials from the PMO appreciated the work being done by the industry associations to promote the employment of SCs/STs and other disadvantaged groups and thanked the coordinating committee members for their suggestions. There is a continuing need to carry on the dialogue. The following decisions were agreed upon: