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Indian Industry Has Responded To The PMs Call for Inclusion: CII Print E-mail
Written by Anand   
Wednesday, 02 April 2008
First Year of CII’s Work on Affirmative Action Produces Very Encouraging Results: Jamshed Irani

New Delhi: Indian Industry has responded to the call of the Prime Minister, said Dr Jamshed J Irani, Chairman, Council for Affirmative Action, CII and Director, Tata Sons. Reporting back on the progress made by CII members on the Affirmative Action work in the last one year, post the targets that were announced earlier, Dr Irani said that the Prime Minister had urged Indian Industry to be more inclusive, with particular emphasis on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and CII has ensured that Indian Industry responds to that call.

CII’s Concrete Steps on Affirmative Action, as were announced in 2006 set out very clear areas of intervention by Indian Industry in the four areas of Entrepreneurship Development, Employability Creation, Education and Workplace interventions (Employment). Referring to these areas of intervention, Dr Irani said that in the first year of work (2007), CII has focused on the creation of delivery models in each of these areas, which can be scaled up in the future and can be replicated.

CII has also created a Code of Conduct on Affirmative Action, which has already been adopted by 579 of CII’s member companies.

Reporting progress on the area of employability creation, Dr Irani said that CII has so far trained 22580 candidates from the SC/ ST communities, for making them more employable. In the last one year, CII member companies have partnered many educational institutions, NGOs, technical colleges, etc across the country to run a number of courses, which aim at imparting soft skills, vocational training and skills development, etc to make a large number of candidates employable. Many of the candidates, who have undergone training under these programmes have been absorbed by CII member companies themselves, and therefore, are a testament to the quality of the courses that have been run, said Dr Irani.

In the area of Entrepreneurship Development, Dr Irani said that CII’s thrust has been to create income streams for people, who have entrepreneurial talent so that they can create employment in turn. The idea was to have a greater multiplier effect on employment for members of the SC/ ST community. In this area too, CII has met with remarkable success. The target for the first year was to select the right kind of people with psychometric qualifications to become entrepreneurs and then to train them for becoming successful entrepreneurs. This stage is followed by making finance available to the candidates and then providing mentorship. So far CII has successfully placed 1594 candidates in the process to becoming entrepreneurs. A few of them in fact, have already made small beginnings. It is hoped that a large number of these people, would establish themselves as successful entrepreneurs in the years to come, said Dr Irani.

Dr Irani had a very interesting reporting to do in the case of scholarships, that industry had committed to support with. Dr Irani said that a large number of scholarships have been routed through the Foundation for Academic Excellence and Access, which has done a stellar job of identifying the genuine needy in terms of their scores being high on a deprivation index. Elaborating further on the scholarship scheme of CII through FAEA, Dr Irani said that currently, the CII scholarship for higher education is one of the most generous in the country, with a monthly allowance of almost Rs 5000 on an average. With this generous endowment, students from the most deprived backgrounds have been able to fulfill their dreams of higher education and are pursuing their career goals, said Dr Irani and CII intends to support them till they are secure in their careers, he added.

While the Code of Conduct on Affirmative Action of CII is based on the principle of non-discrimination, many members of CII have gone a step ahead and are trying to put in place a system of positive discrimination in favour of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, said Dr Irani, talking about employment policies of member companies of CII that have signed the Code of Conduct. CII is also organizing regular awareness programmes across the country for greater sensitivity on the issue, said Dr Irani. A huge target audience for these awareness programmes is the HR community, and they have responded spontaneously, said Dr Irani.

Industry has taken it upon itself to do its part to ensure that through its efforts a larger number of members from the SC and ST community would come to the economic and social mainstream, and it is CII’s commitment to society on behalf of industry that this would be achieved, said Dr Irani. However, he closed by saying that the problems of discrimination in the Indian society are complex and historically entrenched, and therefore, results would be slow in being visible, particularly since industry’s ability to make a difference is limited in absolute numbers. Industry would always play a supplementary role to government’s initiatives in this area, said the CII Chairman on Affirmative Action.

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