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 A bill that will seek diversity profiling of employees in public and private sectors to help in better recruitment of the disadvantaged people is to be introduced in Parliament during the coming Winter Session.

The legislation that will recommend incentives and disincentives to employers based on information in their records and on their performance in the diversity index is in the final stages of preparation.

"The Equal Opportunity Commission legislation will be tabled in the Winter Session of Parliament. The Law Ministry is working on its final draft. It is the next major step that we will take in bringing the majority and the minority together in concern for equality," Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khursheed told the news agency in New Delhi.

The diversity index will show how far a company concerned had gone about in providing affirmative action to the underprivileged sections as per EOC guidelines and its strengths and shortcomings in this respect.

Setting up of the EOC was one of the recommendations of the Sachar Committee, which went into the socio-economic status of minorities.

Khursheed, however, steered clear of questions whether the EOC recommendations would also be applicable to defence forces saying that the Commission has no restrictions on it.

Exceptions can always be made in the legislation. "Law Ministry is working on the final draft....EOC has no restriction ....If any exception has to be made, it will be in the legislation," the Minister said.

Diversity profiling will help the government ensure appropriate representation to all the disadvantaged religious and social groups in employment and education.

"No it will be final decision-making body, subject to reviews by courts," Khursheed said when asked whether the EOC would be an advisory body.

Asked if it would be incumbent on corporate firms to maintain the data base of their employees for ascertaining their minority or majority status, Khursheed said, "It will have to be done. Obviously,legislations will have to be made. It is like a Unique Identity Number".

He said the government has to depend on the workplaces for data.

"Data will not come from somewhere else. It has to be collected from workplaces...You (workplaces) will have to supply the data...".

This information will be used by the government to incentivise or disincentivise the companies to create work opportunities in areas with large minority population.

In as many as 90 districts, minorities form 25 per cent of the population, he said.

Elaborating on the functions of EOC, Khursheed said, if it finds, based on the data available with the government that the diversity profile of employees in an organisation, both public and private, needs correction, it will ask for the same.

"It will tell you that in three years' time, your diversity profile must improve," he said.

Khursheed said there would be a department in the government which would collect sociological and demographic data and "then provide solid base for looking any sector. Beginning with employment,it could go to other areas as well".

He reiterated that the Government would pursue the policy of affirmative action by the private sector in creating better job opportunities for SCs,STs and OBCs rather than reservation in corporates.

"I don't think we have advocated reservation in the private sector. There were suggestions at one point of time. The Prime Minister's Office has since then been looking at affirmative action for Dalits, SCs and STs," he said.

The PMO has taken several meetings with the industry chambers, mainly the CII on affirmative action.

Making it clear that EOC will have "no penal provisions", the Minister however said, "the Commission can also go to a Court of law to get its order implemented."

The minister said the EOC will focus on education and employment in beginning but could go to other areas in future.

It will define an aspirational level of diversity that must be in a workplace.

"We have been seeking affirmative action for the dalits in private sector. Our initial suggestion to the private sector for it has met with "very positive response," Khursheed said.

Noting that the Government's focus was on training and capacity building for the underprivileged groups, the Minister gave the example of public-private partnership for this in the Rural Development Ministry and hoped for its replication in private sector as well.

To a query how EOC will ensure that the companies will maintain ideal diversity profile, Khursheed said that EOC will make recommendations on the basis of solid sociological and demographic data.

"Since the pronouncement of the EOC will be based on sound and scientific data, it will be difficult for any respectable organisation to ignore its recommendations" for maintaining ideal diversity profile in their workplace.

The Minister, however, parried questions on tabling of the report of the Rangnath Mishra Commission saying the report was not in public domain and therefore he cannot say anything now.

"Whatever has to be decided has to be decided by the Cabinet, the report is not in public domain".

While nothing has been officially known about the Mishra commission's recomendations, reports had it that it had suggested specific measures for the socio-ecoonmic uplift of minorities.

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