These top executives took home 3.14% of the total remuneration drawn by this group. The BSE 500 corresponds to almost 93% of the m-cap on the stock exchange. The Muslim employment figure in senior management for BSE-100 companies, in comparison, goes up slightly to 4.60% — 27 of 587 — of total directors and senior executives, though the remuneration drops to 2.56%. Data on blue-collar employment of Muslims, who constitute 14.2% of population, in the private sector is scarce.
The Muslim minority, the most deprived of communities in the Indian jobs market, doesn’t yet figure on the radar of corporate India. Even the affirmative action (AA) framework, which the private sector was prompted to adopt and implement in the last decade, is largely focused on the Dalits, leaving the Muslims entirely to their own devices.
It’s not only the private sector which employs few Muslims in its hierarchies as other estimates indicate that the share of Muslims in government jobs is also low; it’s less than half of their share of the population. “Muslims are the most deprived in the jobs market; their condition is worse than even the scheduled tribes (STs) in urban areas,” explains Amitabh Kundu, visiting professor at the New Delhi-based Institute for Human Development (IHD).
Kundu had steered the Post-Sachar Evaluation Committee, also known as the Kundu Committee, constituted by the ministry of minority affairs, which examined the socio-economic condition of the Muslims in India. His work, submitted in 2014, indicate that the SCs and STs migrate to urban areas to access education and jobs because of reservations or affirmative action initiatives.
Farhad Forbes of the Punebased Forbes Marshall group and Chairman, CII National Committee on Affirmative Action, while wary of the nature of the debate, however concedes the private sector has only ‘scratched the surface’ on affirmative action. “All of the private sector’s affirmative action programs are designed for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes,” he says.
Chandra Bhan Prasad, Dalit activist and advisor to the Dalit India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), commiserates with the plight of the Muslims. “Their continued alienation is definitely bad for the health of the system,” he says.
Forbes is certain that it’s time for the private sector to begin to seriously examine the minority situation but wants to highlight the difference between affirmative action and reservations which are not understood well.
Affirmative action is all about handholding through education, skills or employability programs and could mean positive discrimination in hiring.
The Tata and the Forbes Marshall groups are perhaps the only ones with a clear focus on the Muslims in their affirmative action schemes. This developments came about recently. Forbes presides over an elaborate afterschool project for Muslim girls in Pune and has helped start Muslim-owned enterprises.
The Kundu committee examined the Muslim community on several counts: income, monthly per capita consumption expenditure, and access to health, education and basic services. They fared poorly on most of the indicators.
Some of the few positives were better consumption expenditure of Muslims in rural areas as compared to SCs/STs and also the health status of Muslim women.
“A Muslim woman lives longer than a Hindu woman in the same income bracket,” says Kundu. A few years ago, the professor had chaired an expert group on ‘diversity index,’ again commissioned by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, in which he had proposed the creation of a Diversity Commission that covers all institutions including the private sector.
He thinks it’s about time to make a concerted effort to institutionalize equality. The quota policy has led to uneven results.
“I don’t see the Commission take shape given the political economy,” he says, but he wonders why the private sector cannot report on their diversity performance in greater depth when publishing of CSR and sustainability reports are the norm. Right now only gender issues gain prominence. He is all for the creation of a system of incentives and disincentives based on the diversity performance of a company. It can be done.
All private sector companies that have substantive dealings with the government, public- private-partnerships included, ought to annually publish performance on a religion, caste and gender-based diversity index as the expert group had envisaged. Apart from the naming and shaming bit, it may prove that a regime of incentives/disincentives may be a worthwhile trigger to diversify. “Small injections of a concern for diversity have to be brought in,” says Kundu.–Courtesy Economic Times