November 3, 2017 2:22:16 pm
Bihar has perhaps become the first state in the country to provide reservation in outsourced government jobs with the state cabinet giving it the go ahead on Wednesday. This means that most of class III and class IV jobs for which manpower is through a private agency will now have to comply with the state government’s norms of giving reservation as per quota fixed by the state government with a maximum 49.5 per cent cap.
In last decade or so, over 10,000 people, hired by private agencies, have been working for several government departments, mostly in health, urban development, education and social welfare departments as IT trainers, computer operators, drivers, office boys, security guards and accountants.
While JD (U) leaders have been patting themselves on the back for the move, RJD calls it a “placebo” and the Congress has reacted with cautious optimism. Senior JD (U) leader and former minister Shyam Rajak, who has been talking about the need of reservation has rushed in to take some credit for the move. RJD chief Lalu Prasad has said that Nitish has never been in support of reservation, besides his “populist decisions” of giving 50 per cent reservation to women at panchayats and urban local body levels.
Politics apart, the big question is if private agencies, which have to ensure quality and efficiency, are willing to agree to the idea of reservation. So far, they had been picking the best hires beyond caste considerations. Now, they will have to do so within the caste quota.Also, they are obliged to follow reservation norms while providing staffers for designated government work. However, they are free to provide services and manpower to private institutions sans quota consideration. Private agencies cannot afford to lose a big client like the government that offers big and bulk assignments.
And what about white collar jobs, such as those of consultants and advisors, which are not outsourced? Rural livelhihood project, Jeevika, is run by private consultants getting fat salaries. Why should only class III and class IV jobs for OBCs and SC,/STs candidates be reserved? Though bulk contract jobs such as those of teachers follow reservation norms, big-salary jobs are advertised by the concerned departments. Suppose a government department advertises one post of a consultant on contract — how will they decide if they need to reservation for the post or not?
Reservation in outsourcing also suggests there would be very few or no vacancies for class III and class IV jobs in the future. Most class II and class III employees are hired on contract for half of their last drawn salary. These employees are happy because their pension and half salary make a full salary for them. But this deprives a younger job-seeker. Outsourcing and contract will slowly lead to minimum vacancy in government jobs. This is precisely the reason why politicians from various parties have started talking of reservation in private sector jobs.
It is time the state government stopped talking of reservation as a political tool. Former PM VP Singh used to call reservation more a tool of empowerment than employment. His words were prophetic. With government jobs shrinking fast, reservation in outsourcing looks more of a cover-up political exercise to keep voters interested.
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