Thursday, October 07, 2004

Don't crib about job quotas for Dalits

By Chandrabhan Prasad
Thursday, 07 October , 2004, 09:46

In the ongoing debate on private sector quota for Dalits, new unknown faces with no knowledge about the rights of Dalits and reservation have shown up. And it's the Indian media - a bastion of Brahmans and Baniyas - that has discovered these faces who claim to know all about the American system.

The discovery was necessitated as new-age Dalits are citing the American experience. It's important to understand that Dalit issues are not just confined to jobs. They are about India's democratisation, which covers capital market, industry, trade, films, media, knowledge, and above all, land reforms. Job reservation is just one aspect of the entire debate. | Also see: Oprah Winfrey has lessons for India |

In any healthy debate, one truth is cited to create conditions where another hundred can bloom. However, these so-called experts are using one truth to suffocate another hundred. In fact, they are media's spokespersons who defend their narrow caste interests. Nowhere in the world, media has been so partisan, ghettoized and has stooped so low. The media's new faces argue that "there is no quota system in the US," which is true.

The experts don't stop at this. They suggest that the Indian industry cannot afford to fix quota, and Dalits' citation of the American model holds no ground. However, these experts do not elaborate on what should replace quota?

How cantankerous the Indian media can best be exemplified by citing the experience of Eastman Kodak. The $385 billion company is a world leader in photographic equipment and cameras and employs more than 70,000 people in 30 nations.

But what we don't know, and what the Indian media censors don't say, are the following: In December 2003, the Kodak Board of directors mandated a thesis called Winning & Inclusive Culture (WIC) as social system for the company. The thesis is based on recommendations of the Kodak Diversity Advisory Panel, set up in 2001. Kodak resolved to "strive to eliminate under-representation in jobs in the United States by December 2006". | Great Debate: Do we need reservation in private sector? |

In line with the WIC social system, the company issued a policy statement: "Kodak conducts business in a competitive global environment. Its customers, markets, and employees span many cultures and backgrounds. This reality guides recruitment and retention efforts in Kodak."

Kodak, in its 2003 annual report, stated: "Despite workforce reductions and continuing global economic uncertainties, the company worked to sustain its diverse US workforce demographics for women and people of colour."

In a path-breaking move, the company set up The Kodak CEO Diversity Award. The award recognises an executive who demonstrates exemplary leadership and embraces the mindset and behaviours that lead to a diverse and inclusive work group." In other words, Kodak awards an executive who excels in recruiting more candidates of colour. | Discuss: Don't allow reservation in private sector |

An American White racial group has begun describing Kodak as 'Kodakquota'. Kodak's 2000 annual report shows that the racial/ ethnic minorities comprised 21% of the workforce. However, there was a reduction in the total workforce. At the level of Board of Directors, minorities comprised 8% in 2000, which went up to 33% by 2002. At senior manager/ director/ manager/ supervisor levels, minorities comprised 12% in 2000, which went up to 14% by 2002.

The SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management), a world leader in the field, has come out with a stunning report. In its study on 50 Fortune 500 companies admired by minorities, 76% "award bonuses to managers who achieve measurable diversity goals".

Most of these 50 American companies are leading MNCs, where most Indian management/ engineering graduates dream to work. The study found that "62% job seekers prefer to work for organisations with a commitment to diversity". Most American companies focus on setting goals and striving to achieve them instead of cribbing about the quota system. Kodak is just an example.

Source: Sify news, October 7, 2004

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