Dr. Manmohan Singh, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India in 2006, appealed industry to reach out to the marginalized section of the Scheduled Castes (SC) / (ST) to achieve a more inclusive growth. As a result, Affirmative Action for Private Sector’ was finally announced with the consent of the government which was voluntary and self-regulatory in nature.
Having faith in the ideology of ‘common-good,’ FICCI responded to the call by strengthening awareness on the issue among private sector and taking up a wide range of Affirmative Action Initiatives centered around 4Es- Education, Employability, Entrepreneurship and Employment. Given below is a brief of some of these interventions:
Affirmative Action Initiatives in Sonebhadra District (UP):
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), at the instance of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), had adopted Sonebhadra District of Uttar Pradesh to promote skill development and create livelihood generation opportunities for disadvantaged sections (SC/ST) of population, as part of its Affirmative action initiative.
FICCI strategy for livelihood development:
FICCI interventions to strengthen the livelihoods of disadvantaged sections of the community in Sonebhadra district are based on a three pronged strategy:
- Awareness generation: on different schemes, employment opportunities, training avenues, etc. (through involvement of local NGOs or government departments)
- Training programs: Initiating short term/ need based training programs—developed in consultation with the industry.
- Entrepreneurship development: Collaboration with appropriateagencies/departments/banks and preparing young entrepreneurs.
Based on the given strategy, following are the key Affirmative Action Interventions in Sonebhadra district.
- Employability Enhancement (Skill Development Training) FICCI, along with IL&FS Pvt. Ltd, has set up a skill development center in the district and has trained 2000 plus youth in trades like Welder, Fitter, BPO and Retail.
- Promotion of Self-employment (Enterprise Development): ILO’s Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) program is a system of interrelated training packages and supporting materials for small-scale entrepreneurs. FICCI has launched SIYB training in Sonebhadra to promote enterprise development skills of youth and help them grow their enterprises as viable business entities. As of now around 350 youth have been trained in Sonebhadra. Many of them have set up their small enterprises, while others are in the process.
Voluntary Code of Conduct:
FICCI developed a Voluntary Code of Conduct to promote Affirmative Action in private sector. Non-discrimination in employment opportunities on the basis of cast, provision for capacity building of the identified underprivileged communities and transparency in systems and processes are the core underlying values around which the code has been woven. It urges the industry to undertake tailor-made initiatives to promote education, skill development and entrepreneurship of the targeted community. The code has been circulated among all industry members and, as of now, has been adopted by 451 member companies.
Improving the quality of vocational training: (Adoption of ITIs):
FICCI has facilitated adoption of 109 government ITIs by Industry members to turn them into a Center of Excellence. Some of these ITIs lie in tribal dominated areas and thus; serve a large number of ST/SC students. Industry partners, through the Institute Management Committee (IMC), have started new, much-comprehensive-and-industry-aligned courses in these ITIs and have resulted into improved employability of trainees. IMCs have also taken a number of measures to improve overall training quality, facilities/machinery available and infrastructure of these institutes.
Stimulating private sector investment in Skill Development:
FICCI is also urging its industry members to invest in the area of skill development. While a significant number of members are already having skill development initiatives, some have made fresh/additional investments in this area.
FICCI, through its allied body—the All India Organization of Employers—has discussed the issue of safeguarding and promoting the interest of ST/SC employees, with employer partners around the country.
Rehabilitation of flood-hit Uttarakhand youth
In response to the catastrophic flood in Uttarakhand, FICCI had set up a task force to support the Uttarakhand Government in rehabilitation efforts. The task force, being chaired by Ms. Sudha Pillai, Former Member Secretary, Planning Commission, initiated a number of rehabilitation interventions in the state, including Skill Development (other interventions are in the area of Affordable Housing, Clean Water and Sanitation, Geo Spatial Technologies and Environment). The task force decided to train 5000 youth from the flood affected areas, on various manufacturing sector trades and enterprise development.