Taking the Social Justice politics of Affirmative Entitlement a step further, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BSP Supremo Mayawati has announced for the first time “mandatory” reservations in the Private Sector.

This is different from the previous announcements her government in Uttar Pradesh had made on private sector reservations.

On August 10, 2007, the Mayawati government had enforced a 30 per cent reservation — 10 per cent each for SCs, OBCs and the poor from upper castes — in new industrial units. The government had also implemented reservation for SCs and OBCs in units coming up under the PPP policy. These were however considered “voluntary” in nature.

The “mandatory” reservation policy that Mayawati has now announced is for firms to which the Uttar Pradesh Government outsources operations and services.

Announcing the policy, Chief Minister Mayawati said all establishments interested in doing business with government, public sector undertakings, boards and government-aided bodies, will have to implement reservation.

“The organisations will have to reserve posts for SCs, OBCs and others as per government policy,” she said. At present, the total reservation in state government jobs is around 50 per cent — 22 per cent for SCs and 27 per cent for OBCs.

“With the shrinking of the government’s role as an employer, in this era of economic reforms and liberalisation, job opportunities for SCs and OBCs were on the wane,” she said. Owing to the scarcity in government jobs, steps are being taken so the deprived sections of society also get their due share in the growing economy.

This is a significant escalation in the War on Social Justice. With this escalation Mayawati has essentially forced every entity that services the public sector in Uttar Pradesh to either provide reservations or forgo its business with the State and its agencies. While this has implications on the freedom of private enterprises and their ability to be competitive it has a far more dangerous implication for the nation at large.

Mayawati who has Prime Ministerial ambitions and is actively looking beyond Uttar Pradesh has upped the ante here. She has now  set a new bar in the race to dole out entitlements. Until now you had smaller fry like Ram Vilas Paswan only making noises about private sector reservations and bigger fry like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pay lip service to it. Mayawati can now not just claim to be the first to have breached the private sector barrier but also one to have forced the private sector to do what the Congress had only been promising to do while merely issuing veiled threats to the industry on voluntary affirmative action.

Offstumped Bottomline: With these Weapons of Mass Entitlement, Mayawati has escalated the War on Social Justice into a virtual arms race. It is but a matter of time before the politics of competitive social justice forces the Congress and the other regional parties to start making further assaults on the private sector.  This is fraught with dangerous consequences for the nation apart from dealing a body blow to the competitiveness of the private sector. Will the BJP’s new mascot Narendra Modi, who has been championing the spirit of Enterprise of late, take a stance on this issue ?

Originally posted here

http://offstumped.nationalinterest.in/2008/01/18/mayawati-and-private-sector-reservations/#post-comments

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