Monday, October 18, 2004

Chidambaram for `healthy debate' on job reservation

Chennai , Oct. 17

THE Union Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, has called for a "healthy debate" on the issue of reservation of jobs in the private sector and appealed to all not to "become emotional and take extreme positions."

Speaking at a `Conference of SC/ST intellectuals,' Mr Chidambaram said that the UPA Government had initiated debate on reservations in the private sector in its `Common Minimum Programme.'

"Reservation of jobs in private sector too should come, but the question is how to do it," he said.

He recalled that in 1988, at the instance of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, he had initiated a `special recruitment drive' and filled up over 50,000 vacant reserved positions in the Government.

To an observation by several other speakers that Budget-provided funds for SC/ST development seldom reached the targeted communities, Mr Chidambaram said that he would ensure that this does not happen in future.

He also promised to present the Budget differently from next year, so that the portions relevant to funds earmarked for SC/ST development (Special Components Plan) are simple, clear and easy to understand.

The Finance Minister said that while he could learn of the plight of SC/ST communities, by reading and listening, he was "handicapped" in that he was unable to "emotionally realise" how a Dalit citizen felt.

Emphasising that education was indispensable for development of any community, Mr Chidambaram called upon Dalits to start "capacity building" by building educational institutions on their own, perhaps by creating trusts.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, October 18, 2004

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