With recent demands for affirmative action or job reservations for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates in the private sector, debates surrounding quota have once again come to the fore.
What has been suggested?
Reservation in private sector has been suggested. Because providing quota in private jobs will help cool down anger among SC and STs, thereby stemming the rise of Maoist militancy among them.
How it helps?
The lands of vulnerable communities are being snatched away and with nothing left, the youth take up the wrong path including militancy. But, Maoist militancy is not just a security challenge, but results from deeply embedded socio-economic causes. And a major reason for mounting discontent among young people is because they have no jobs and future to look forward to. Hence, reservation in private jobs is a good solution.
Why young people take up arms?
The reasons for young people taking up arms in some impoverished regions are wide-ranging. They include-
- Profound agrarian crisis, caused by abysmally low public investments in dry-land agriculture and farmer income protection.
- Failures of land reforms.
- Promotion of unsustainable, high-cost, risky agricultural technologies.
- The ecological degradation of the countryside.
- Decline and dispossession from forests.
- Contraction of rural credit.
Need for quota in private sector:
The hopes of young people are shifting to the private sector. Also, at a time when the few jobs that are being created are in the private sector, and there is wide evidence of the bias shown by this sector against employing youth from socially discriminated categories, there is a strong case for job reservations.
Is it not possible to create enough jobs in public sector?
There is a colossal, unprecedented and ever-mounting crisis of employment for the young in India today. Every month, a million new persons are joining India’s workforce and there are hardly any jobs for them in either the public or private sector.
- The total number of government staff, including Central and state governments, PSUs and local bodies, is less than 1.4% of the population, against the global average of over 3%.
- Besides, this number has been going down over the years, falling from 19.13 million in 2000-01 to 17.60 million in 2011-12. Hence, it is not possible to create enough jobs in the public sector.
Why young people are turning away from agriculture?
Growing millions of young people find no future in agriculture. The Socio-Economic Caste Census showed that more than 55% of rural households possess no land, and are forced to survive exclusively by distress manual labour.
- Marginal and small farmers are not much better off. Most of them are reduced to footloose migrants, travelling, working and surviving under conditions of great hardship away from their homes.
What’s needed now?
- Massive public investments in agriculture and rural job creation would help create enormous local markets that could spur jobs and demands.
- Huge expansions in the broken school, higher and technical education, and health and child care services would not just generate jobs, but also render youth entering work more productive and equipped with marketable skills.
Young people today desperately long to escape the drudgery and hunger that entrapped their parents. Hence, there is a need to change course drastically without which we will continue to profoundly fail our young, with both tragic and explosive outcomes. However, independent of whether or not it would help allay the attraction of dispossessed young Dalit and tribal people to militant ideologies, the case for affirmative action in the private sector for SCs and STs must be considered on its own merit.