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Private quota, for a price

Aug. 10: The Mayavati government has taken the first official step in the country to encourage “voluntary” job quota in the private sector.

Investors in Uttar Pradesh will be given incentives only if they set aside 30 per cent jobs for the weaker sections, according to a proposal approved by the state cabinet yesterday.

The reservation would be “voluntary” but nay-sayers will have to pay a price. Those who do not want to follow the quota formula cannot stake claim to sops like land allocation, tax holiday and other subsidies.

The state government took care to clarify that “it is not a law but an understanding between the government and the investors and it is totally voluntary”.

A state law will be difficult to implement as there is no enabling central legislation to enforce quota in the private sector.

Reluctant to bring in a law, the Centre has been nudging companies to give on their own more jobs to the weaker sections. Industry associations are against “forced” reservations and have launched initiatives to train volunteers to improve their employability.

Of the 30 per cent quota approved by the state cabinet, 10 per cent should be reserved for Scheduled Castes and Tribes, 10 per cent for Other Backward Classes and backward religious minorities, and the rest for economically weaker sections among the upper castes.

However, the reservation is not specific to any post and could include anyone from a watchman to an executive.

The principal secretary to the chief minister, Shailesh Krishna, told reporters today that industrial units, educational institutions, infrastructure facilities, service sector projects and disinvested units set up with government assistance would have to implement the quota to be eligible for incentives.

Once a project enlists for the scheme, the labour department will monitor recruitment.

Industry chamber Ficci said it needed to “read the fine print” before reacting but Assocham said it was “happy”.

Assocham president Venugopal Dhoot said: “We are very happy with Mayavati’s decision. This is what industry has been demanding.” However, he added that the 30 per cent quota should be lowered to anything between 20 and 25 per cent.

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, which is set to invest in the state, described the offer as “interesting”.

But a spokesperson for the Jaypee Group, which has high stakes in Uttar Pradesh, said the incentives were a one-time offer while the private companies’ commitment to reservation would have a long-term impact.

“We have to know more about the government’s offer before we formally react,” he said.

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