Nitish Kumar addressing a press conference | File photo: PTI
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar | File photo: PTI
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Nitish Kumar spoke in favour of 50 per cent job reservation in the private sector on the basis of caste, and called for a debate at the national level. In Bihar, he has introduced a caste-based quota in outsourced jobs, which has been called a ‘backdoor entry’ for private sector reservations. Uday Narayan Choudhary, a JD-U leader, has questioned the legality of private sector reservations.

Is Nitish Kumar’s proposal for caste-based quotas in the private sector a feasible idea?

Reservation has been a tool for politicians to fool people. The more an amoral politician, the more he speaks of reservation. Nitish Kumar who has exposed himself as the most unprincipled, unscrupulous and amoral non-BJP politician during recent years, by having multiple somersaults for his selfish gains, has come out with a demand for 50 per cent reservations in private sector for the backward classes.

The genesis of this demand goes back to the Congress ploy enacted through the Bhopal Conference of a bunch of Dalit activists and intellectuals in January 2002 to placate the growing unease of the Dalit masses against neoliberal policies of the government.

After a decade of these neoliberal economic policies, they woke up to the risks these policies posed in terms of abolition of reservation because of various ways PSUs were privatised. To vent this anger, the Congress catalysed the Bhopal Declaration with reservation in private sector as one of its demands. Over the past 15 years, nothing concrete has been done about it but it has served the ruling classes insofar as it has deflected the attention of Dalits from the neoliberal policies.

Here are other sharp perspectives on private sector reservation:

Rupa Subramanya: Co-author of Indianomix
Chandra Bhan Prasad: Dalit entrepreneur and author
Milind Kamble: Founder, Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Cynthia Stephen: Social policy analyst on gender and caste issues

Nitish Kumar finds himself in a fix as he ditched the backward class constituency in jumping onto the BJP bandwagon. As an astute politician, he realised that all his rhetoric would not work with people. Therefore, he has come out with this trick of demanding a 50 per cent reservation in private sector. I have been writing elaborately, as the only commentator who has formal education and experience with the corporate sector — both public and private — that this demand is more of a rhetoric than of substance.

Nitish Kumar very well knows that nothing would come out of it but it can create a turbulence that would save him his apple cart. I hope the BCs understand it and punish him for his betrayals.

Anand Teltumbde is a writer, civil rights activist, ex CEO of Petronet India Limited, and presently senior professor of Goa Institute of Management 

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