largely private

Here's a quick summary: in spite of the 'burden' of reservation, (a) our public sector companies -- particularly banks -- are flourishing in the face of de-licensing and unfettered competition, and (b) the southern states -- and in particular Tamil Nadu, the state with the highest level of quotas -- have also done quite well -- if not better than the rest of the country.

that's abi reacting to a post on indian economy blog by an ill-informed blogger who attributes the inefficiency of the public sector in india to reservations. it's unfortunate that abi doesn't question the underlying presumption of the other blogger's stand: that the infusion of the 'merit-less' (read lower castes) into the public sector through reservations has been as significant ( in terms of numbers) as to significantly alter its performance

here, check the numbers of the dalits in the central public sector enterprises. you'll notice that around 85% of the dalits and adivasis are in the lowest three echelons and in the top two rungs, their combined number doesn't exceed 14%. and we would never know how many of the truly significant positions in those two rungs are occupied by the dalits. and we would also never know the position of the dalits and adivasis in the rest of the public sector which accounts for 75-80% of the total manpower employed in the public sector.

let me explain: central public sector undertakings do not include departmental undertakings, banking institutions and enterprises where govt equity holding is less than 50%. this broad, nebulous expanse of entities comprises of the railways (which is clubbed with the central government), banks, other enterprises producing and distributing goods and services (like utilities) and several other kinds of organisations, institutions etc., and we do not have reliable figures for any of them. the total employee strength of the public sector (excluding the central & state governments and the railways and the armed forces) is around 6 million, according to estimates thrown up by recent economic surveys. of these, as i said earlier, we have reliable figures for only the central public sector undertakings. and even these are hotly disputed by many dalit groups. the banks, according to them, are the worst offenders and the number of dalits/ adivasis in banks and pses/institutions other than cpsus couldn't be more than 3-6% (of the total employee strength) according to these dalit groups. and most of the non-compliance in the public sector enterprises isn't as rigorously scrutinised and questioned as it is in, say, the government itself. and i don't even have to talk about the obcs in the public sector, i think. i'd touched upon that subject earlier, but let me repeat my earlier stand: the representation of the obcs hasn't improved significantly (perhaps i should say 'improved even marginally'?) since the disinterment of the mandal commission report. and the sachar report has told us about the invisible muslim in the public sector. no, the public sector doesn't shoulder any significant social burden- and it is more than adequately compensated for doing whatever little it grudgingly does.

i've always felt that the public sector in india is a largely private affair, and the left in the country had always maintained that the organized private sector in the country is a largely public affair (because of the various sops, in the form of cheap land, subsidized power or water and other public resources, grants, loans, tax breaks and other incentives that it receives from the government- why doesn't the left ever enumerate/calculate the sops the public sector in the country received/s from the government?). considering all those facts, does a public debate on such private issues as the performance of the public sector or the private sector in the country have any real public significance? aren't 'debates' on the doings of popular film stars more entertaining? 'public sector' trains run late often, 'private sector' cellphones go out of coverage areas often. the only things you can truly depend on in this country, are street corner panwallahs and suchlike sundry institutions who/which deliver most of the time you need them. now, where should you start a truly public debate on excellence?


Anoop Saha said...

Great!! I was writing on exactly the same topic. Why our public sector have failed in their social objective is directly correlated to the lack of reservations in their decision making body. If we do a comparative study on the parameters of the loot of land from unwilling farmers at throwaway prices, the instances of police firing on peaceful protesters, murder of trade union leaders, using contract labour at below the minimum wage rates, making a bunch of politicians, officers, contractors extremely rich, and of course causing irreversible damage to the environment, the PSUs fare much as bad as, if not more than, the private sector.

But the solution is not to have more private enterprises and dismantling of PSUs. It is giving them independence, have labour representatives in the managing council, and to implement reservations vigorously at the higher echelons.

kuffir said...

'But the solution is not to have more private enterprises and dismantling of PSUs.'

and who'll create the new jobs anoop?

Anoop Saha said...

PSUs did create a large number of jobs in the 70s and 80s. Much more than what is being done in the name of SEZs, tax breaks, and what not.

kuffir said...


1)it's not psus which created the jobs but the government which invested heavily in the existing psus and new ones which created the jobs. and the jobs were not entirely in the psus alone but in the central government and state governments. in fact a greater portion of them were in the government/s than in the psus. many indians forget that the term 'public sector', worldwide, refers to not just the pses/psus but also the government.
2) it was that illogical expansion of government and the psus at the cost of everything else (including investments in education, healthcare, infrastructure) that led to the 1991 balance of payments crisis more than anything else.
3) and you're basically referring to jobs created in the organized sector (government plus psus plus organized private sector) - which constituted less than 10% of all employment in the 70s and 80s and is now around 7%. growth in these sectors in emplyment in the 70s and 80s was around 2% on an average while the total work force(organized plus unorganized sectors) itself increased by more than 2% every year.
4) total indian workforce now is around 420 millions. the organized sector has remained static, more or less, since 1990 at 26 million or so.
5) i am basically talking about better employment for the rest of the workforce of around 390 millions and the 8 millions who come into the workforce every year.
6) for instance, india produced around 20,000 engineers like you in 1980. now it produces more than 4,00,000 a year.
how do you produce jobs for those kind of numbers? or who will produce them?

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