Social Responsibility Journal
Volume 3 Number 3 2007
Corporate Social Responsibility and Afﬁrmative Action Program
Prashant Roy & Mohsin Alam
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to identify the responsibility of the growing private sector in India towards society
and how it can contribute to the providing social justice in the Indian society.
Design/methodology/approach – Only doctrinal method of research has been adopted because of time constraints.
Findings – During the course of the research, the hypocritical approach of corporates was revealed, especially in the
context. On one hand, the corporates are resisting any legislation which would forcefully push them towards afﬁrmative
action; but on the other hand no such initiative has been taken up by them to stop the government from doing so.
Research limitations/implications – Any sort of ﬁeld study was impracticable.
Practical implications – At the time of writing, the government’s mood is swinging towards passing legislation to-persuade
the corporate sector to participate in providing afﬁrmative action to the lower strata of the society.
Originality/value – This is one of the ﬁrst researches in this area and not many people have actually written about CSR
and afﬁrmative action put together.
Keywords Afﬁrmative action, Social justice, Corporate social responsibility, India Politics
Paper type Research paper
Introduction- Why Afﬁrmative Action in Private Sector
The Inevitability Argument
India’s ruling Alliance – The United Progressive Alliance’s
(UPA) Common Minimum Program (CMP) in no uncertain
terms declares that the government would be serious about afﬁrmative action in private sector.
This may pose a serious
threat to the autonomy to the private sector in India, which feels that this is the perfect time to freely follow a policy of
growth and sees afﬁrmative action as a pothole in this regard.
Afﬁrmative action has been implemented in USA, but the
issue remains that in India, only reservation as a means to equal opportunity has been adopted. If this method is taken up
by the Indian Government, it could jeopardize economic ﬁnancial relationships in this country, “lead to a bitter
confrontation between government and industry and ‘derail’ economic reforms”.
In fact, it seems that the Government is serious in this endeavor. After the reservation policy in the educational
institutions, reservations in the private sector is seen by many as the next step. As Ram Vilas Paswan
laments that the
private sector cannot be trusted and is supported in this claim by many political parties. Hence, reservations seem a
political reality. There seems to be a political consensus on these steps as well. In December, 2003, the Prime Minister
then, Atal Bihari Vajpayee made a public pronouncement supporting such an initiative.
There have been reports that the government may be looking for a middle path. This would involve tax cuts and
other measures as adopted in South Africa.
But there have also been reports that the government is now interested in
bringing a new Constitutional Amendment to facilitate the government in imposing their model of afﬁrmative action.
Hence, the private sector stands at a crucial turning point- whether to preserve its autonomy but also take social
justice into account, or let the government take over important decision making processes. It would be attempted in this
paper to present the positive aspects of afﬁrmative action, and hopefully convince the private sector to take up afﬁrmative
action seriously, in order not only to preserve corporate freedom but also help a growing social concern.
The Deprived Classes and Need for Emancipation
As the famous jurist, Upendra Baxi
points out, Indian Law can no longer choose to ignore the “seismic shift caused by
the speciﬁcity of contemporary Indian globalization”. For Baxi, this process is marked by 3 D’s – denationalization,
deregulation and disinvestment. He stresses on the Indian legal system taking cognizance of such a situation in a
way which will not lead to miscarriage of justice. In this changing economic world, we must ensure that the principles of
The alliance which is currently in power in India till the next elections in 2009.
The UPA CMP declares: “The UPA government is very sensitive to the issue of afﬁrmative action, including reservations, in the
private sector. It will immediately initiate a national dialogue with all political parties, industry and other organizations to see how
best the private sector can fulﬁll the aspirations of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe youth.”
Many industrialists and private sector scions have expressed unhappiness over this development including Rahul Bajaj, see The Times
of India (21 September 2004); Sunil Kumar Munjal, see The Times of India, New Delhi, 23 June 2004; and Narayan Murthy.
See Private quota may haunt Monsoon Session, Manini Chatterjee. The Indian Express Online, 17 June 2006.
Member of the Lok Sabha or the Lower House of the Indian Parliament.
Thimmaiah, G. (2005) Implications of reservations in private sector. Economic and Political Weekly, 19 February 2005.
Media Room Pvt quota: Centre may lure companies with tax carrot Times of India, 24 April 2006.
Baxi, U. (2005) ‘Introduction: The Myth and Reality of Indian administrative law’, in Massey, I. P. (ed.), Administrative Law, 6th ed,
p. XIII. Lucknow: Eastern Book Company.