The outgoing Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government has taken aam aadami for a ride on the issue of job reservations. UPA has indeed smothered the jobs in the Government under the garb of expenditure control, reducing reservations to a political farce.
A plenty of hard evidence is emerging on this issue from different ministries including the ones headed by champions of dalits and minorities such as Ram Vilas Paswan and Anbumani Ramadoss.
Before seeing how the UPA shut not only the reservation door but also the window for new government jobs, recall what UPA said when it came to the power in mid-2004.
In its survival mantra called the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP), UPA said: ?All reservation quotas, including those relating to promotions, will be fulfilled in a time-bound manner. To codify all reservations, a Reservation Act will be enacted.?
?The UPA government is very sensitive to the issue of affirmative action, including reservations, in the private sector.?
An aam aadami from SC/ST, OBCs and minority communities is clueless about the implementation of such promises in view of harsh ground realities.
He wonders if the ministry outsource to private sector jobs and activities that easily be performed by aam aadami, where is the scope for reservations. And he just fails to understand why this sarkar for aam aadami failed to stipulate reservations in private companies that bag contract for supply of manpower, goods and services running into several lakhs of rupees every year across the country.
Take the case of the latest jobs outsourcing tender issued by the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals (DCP), which is under the control of Paswan, Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers.
The tender notice dated April 8, 2009 invited ?manpower supplying agencies for outsourcing of the services of data entry operators.?
In this tender document, DCP has not specified that the manpower supplier should have on its rolls specified percentage of SC/ST, OCBs, Muslims, etc.
It is not a one-time requirement for data operators by the DCP. It issued similar tenders in two preceding years at least. That is what an aam aadami can see with his own eyes by logging on to chemicals.gov.in. Why has Paswan not given jobs to dalits as data entry operators in his own ministry?
And DCP is not a loner in this game of outsourcing of data entry operators. Several other ministries are doing the same with the same tender format. Take the case of tender notice dated January 12, 2009 issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that Ramadoss headed till March.
This tender is also silent on reservations. It, like other tenders, guards the Government against any legal claim for the jobs that might be made by the outsourced data entry operators.
The tender says: ?The service provider shall engage necessary persons as requested by Directorate General of Health Services from time to time. The said persons engaged by the service provider shall be the employees of the service provider and it shall be the duty of the service provider to pay their salary every month. There is no master and servant relationship between the employees of the service provider and this Directorate and further the said persons of the service provider shall not claim any absorption in the Directorate General of Health Services, in future.?
It is not just data entry operators who are outsourced. Stenographers, office assistants, Hindi typists and drivers are outsourced too. Refer to one such tender from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs issued in September 2008. It is still available on the ministry'swebsite mca.gov.in.
These tenders show that the so-called reformist government has lost its commitment to undertake reforms with the human face, a term coined by Dr Manmohan Singh in his earlier role as Finance Minister in the PV Narasimha Rao Government.
The Ministry of External Affairs? tender for outsourcing 100 stenographers, issued in June 2008, thus reads as: ?The service provider'sperson shall not claim any benefit/compensation/absorption/regularisation of services with office under the provisions of Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, or Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970. Undertaking from the person to this effect will be required to be submitted by the service provider to this office.?
Illiterate or semi-literate dalits would perhaps now have to stop dreaming about Government jobs with the Government invariably outsourcing either menial jobs or services such as cleaning and security services.
A case in point is the tender notice issued by the Ministry of Urban Development in February 2009 for supply of manpower for one year ?to perform jobs assigned to peon/labourer/farash/chowkidar.?
If one takes into account the different services contracts such as provision of call centre services and maintenance of information technology facilities, the UPA joke on jobs creation in the Government sector and reservation in general turns cruel.
The jobs and reservations foregone in the government and its organisations including regulatory authorities and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) would easily run into several thousands every year, according to an analyst.
PSUs is not only outsourcing services but have also started outsourcing core activities that initially formed integral part of their operations. A case in point is outsourcing of industrial gases by steel plants and refineries by asking a contractor to set up gas plants within their plant area. Earlier, the PSUs used to set up industrial gas units as integral part of their production complexes.
The manpower outsourcing is not restricted to the Centre. The Congress-ruled states are also excelling on this front. Take the case of Rajasthan where Congress returned to power a few months earlier.
On April 17, Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation, a Rajasthan Government undertaking, issued an advertisement, revealing its decision to empanel ?hotel industry manpower suppliers?.
The shortlisted companies would later be asked to supply manpower raging from demi-chef to cleaners.
In spite of these hard facts, the Congress Party in its Lok Sabha manifesto claims: ?The Indian National Congress is deeply committed to pursuing affirmative action for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the private sector. It has already initiated a national debate on this issue. It also pledges to carve out a reservation for the economically weaker sections of all communities without prejudice to existing reservations for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and OBCs.?
Jai Ho! Jai Ho!! Jai Ho!!!