Thursday, November 10, 2005

Dalit Reservations in Private Sector

Surinder Jodhka reviews a book on the debate on reservations for Dalits in the private sector.

He points to the contradictions inherent in the debate against the reservations:
Reservations are being debated in India once again. However, the context/question this time is a little different, viz, should the provisions of reservations for the deprived communities be extended to employment in the private sector against the background of a growing trend towards privatisation and liberalisation of the Indian economy? Under the new regime, the state has begun to withdraw from the economic sector and private enterprise is allowed to expand into areas of economic activity that were hitherto not open to it. As a consequence employment avenues in the state sector have been shrinking, making reservation in employment virtually meaningless. The growing presence of private sector in technical and professional education may also mean the end of the quota system in higher education!
...Several papers in the volume show that invoking theoretical resources from the liberal theory and neoclassical economics could also make a case for reservations in private sector. Sukhadeo Thorat and Ashwini Deshpande refer to classical debates in the discipline of economics, which not only recognise the presence of discrimination in market economies but also underline the need for political interventions to remove such discriminations. Interestingly, these theoretical writings tend to also suggest that such interventions invariably help in making the markets more efficient and stable. In another well-argued paper Aryama argues against the popular view that divides “public” and “private” sectors of employment. There can be no justifiable ground for the private sector to claim immunity from democratic control and deliberation, she argues.
See also this post that presents an opposing point of view.

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