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Legal push lets women into EU boardrooms January 29, 2010

Posted by reader111 in Women Rights.
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Nicola Clark, NYT News Service, 29 January 2010
OSLO: Arni Hole remembers the shock wave that went through Norway’s business community in 2002 when the country’s trade and industry minister, Ansgar Gabrielsen, proposed a law requiring that 40% of all company board members be women.

“There were, literally, screams,” said Hole, director general of the equality ministry. “It was a real shock treatment.” Even in this staunchly egalitarian society — 80% of Norwegian women work outside the home, and half the current government’s ministers are female — the idea seemed radical, if not for its goal, then for the sheer magnitude of change it would require.

Back then, Norwegian women held 7% of private-sector board seats; just under 5% of chief executives were women. After months of heated debate, the measure was approved by a significant majority in Parliament, giving state-owned companies until 2006 to comply and publicly listed companies until 2008.

Eight years on, share of female directors at roughly 400 companies affected is above 40%, while women fill over a quarter of the board seats at the 65 largest privately held companies. To many feminists, this is the boldest move anywhere to breach one of the most durable barriers to gender equality.

Indeed, the world has noticed: Spain and the Netherlands have passed similar laws, with a 2015 deadline for compliance. The French senate will soon debate a bill phasing in a female quota by 2016, after the National Assembly approved the measure last week. Belgium, Britain, Germany and Sweden are the countries considering legislation.

Still, questions remain about whether boardroom quotas can address other hurdles to female advancement.

A 2007 McKinsey study of the largest European companies found that those with at least three women on their executive committees significantly outperformed their sector in terms of average return on equity by about 10%; operating profit was nearly twice as high.

The study stopped short of attributing this performance to a “critical mass” of women but found that companies with pronounced gender diversity at the top tended to rank highly in terms of management quality and organization.

But economists say link between performance and women on boards is less clear. The boards primarily monitor and advise executives and top managers, who are still mostly men.



Reserving the deserving January 25, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Caste Reservations.
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(Saurav Basu; April 13, 2008)


If we go for reservations on communal and caste basis, we swamp the bright and able people and remain second-rate or third-rate…..This way lies not only folly but disaster….How are we going to build the public sector or indeed any sector with second rate people?

  Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Letter to Chief Ministers, 27 June 1961


The landmark SC decision on the 10th of April, 2008 is being unanimously viewed as a big boost for reservations, since it has upheld the constitutional validity of the UPA’s government’s decision in 2006 to reserve 27.5% of seats for OBCs (other backward castes) in all centrally funded institutions. However, the judgment has also thrown a spanner in the works of the government by making the exclusion of the ‘creamy layer’ from the OBC reservation pie mandatory. This has already set coalition partners fuming. Chagan Bhujwal of the RPI, D Raja of the CPI, Paswan of the LJP and others have expressed dissent at the SC’s decision and have been more than outspoken in their intention to subvert the SC’s intentions through legislation. Apart from this major rider, the SC has also left the case of reservation in private institutions open for future judgment while suggesting the government to review the OBC reservations every 5-10 years. Some experts  also contend  that the judgment rules out reservations at the post-graduate level. 


Pro reservation groups [and that includes all political parties of India] have unanimously attempted to appropriate the judgment as being cent percent in their favor. For instance, Indira Jaising, a lawyer representing the pro reservationists declares “the judgment gives a clear signal that the future lies in inclusive growth, inclusion of SC/ST and backward classes in the halls of higher learning.” She cautiously adds; “It is true that the judgment calls upon the government to exclude the ‘creamy layer.’ This seems to be in line with the Mandal judgment, which also mandated the exclusion of the creamy layer in employment. It was argued for the Union of India, that in order to avail of the benefits of higher education, one needs to be in a stable economic position to arrive at the level or competing for those exams. To exclude them, would be to deny the class as a whole, the benefit of those who could become leaders and peer group motivators .However, that was not to be!”


If she had been aware of past SC judgments, then she would have appreciated the fact that exclusion of the creamy layer was unequivocally directed by the SC in the Indira Sawhney Vs Union of India, 2000 case where it observed “The non exclusion of the creamy layer or the inclusion of forward castes in the list of backward castes will be totally illegal. Such an illegality offending the root of the Constitution cannot be allowed to be perpetuated even by constitutional amendment.”


At this point; we may revisit three of the core anti-reservation arguments. The crux amongst them was constituted by the appalling state of primary and secondary education where functional literacy rates could be as low as 37%. In India Development Report 2002, Kirit S. Parikh had pointed out, “With a literacy rate of 65, we have 296 million illiterates, age seven years and above, as per the 2001 census. The number of illiterates today exceeds the population of the country of around 270 million at Independence, age seven and above.”


The largest segment of the world’s illiterates is in India. The problem was even more acute with SC/ST and some other backward castes. More than half of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe households in the country in 1981 were totally illiterate; i.e., no member of the household could read and write.


In rural India, where 80% of SC/ST and backward castes reside the literacy rate [2001] is a mere 59.4 in contrast to 80% in urban India where the majority of the population comprises of the so called upper castes. 


When the court questioned the government’s commitment to the cause of basic education, the government counsel was all at sea – fingers pointing at the much publicized Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan which had according to CAG’s report, placed in Parliament conceded that the much-vaunted program on free and universal education has been a colossal failure, a disaster that stems from an almost calculated negligence despite a budget of over Rs. 10,000 crores. The record has been uniformly disgraceful and the Centre owes an explanation for its dismal performance in implementing one of the basics of governance.


Another alarming observation is the steep dropout rate; such that only 10% of the students in Rural India enrolled for primary education eventually go on to complete their basic education. [NSSO Report No. 473 – Literacy and Levels of Education in India, 1999-2000]


The fundamental failure has to be maximally attributed to the Congress Party since it has dominated the corridors of power for over 5 decades now. Is it not a simple piece of logic that children deprived of basic education can never avail the fruits of higher education? Hence, there is absolutely no question of restricting students of the backward caste to the level of basic education. On the contrary, basic education was the most important means to bridge the socio-eco disparities which unfortunately will remain the norm for millions of Indians especially in the rural areas. Their voices will not be heard! And yet pro quota lobbyists allege this move to be means of perpetuating upper caste hegemony over disadvantaged sections of society when the ‘Youth For Equality’ was calling for a crusade against illiteracy and ignorance. 


On the contrary, these sanctimonious pro-quota groups share such a deep degree of bonding with their backward brothers that the former are not ready to relinquish their reservation benefits in favor of the latter despite being the sole beneficiaries of the reservation policy for over 60 years. 


Justice A.P. Sen had explicitly observed in the famous K.C. Vasanth Kumar Vs State of Karnataka (AIR, 1985)  case that “only the privileged groups within the backward classes reap all the benefits of reservation with the result that the lowest of the low who are stricken with poverty and are therefore socially and educationally backward remain deprived through these constitutional provisions…”


This elite class or creamy layer amongst the backwards, who usurp all the reservation benefits wants to maintain the current disparity of standards to emerge as the sole leaders cum supposedly emancipated representatives of their communities, by indoctrinating their ignorant brethren against their common enemy in demonical upper caste constructs. The politicians are the chief architects in this diabolical plan who have deployed a standard technique “look for a grievance…show by some measure that the target group has been left behind…Stroke the sense of being discriminated against…Frighten the group into believing that others are out to take away even more of what is its right and present yourself as the only savior” [Falling over backwards, Page xiii, Arun Shourie]


That such unholy nexuses exist and that a real and identifiable creamy layer amongst the OBCs who outstrip even the affluent amongst the general classes is no figment of our imagination is proven by the fact that the annual per capita consumption expenditure (APCCE) for OBCs is Rs 15,436, which compares reasonably well with Rs 16,923 for the general category.


The second argument was of course merit. The striking students were often flayed as merit mongers by the pro quota hate mongers. Merit was waved aside as a purely Aryan invention. Praful Bidwai, the communist leader, claimed merit to be some bogus intangible identity. The preposterous nature of these arguments is self evident, and cannot remotely discount the fact that in any modern competitive society, Merit is the primary means to determine minimum competency levels while excluding incompetence. That merit is genuine is observed by the fact that no coaching institute in the country can claim success rates greater than 5% in any professional examination. Merely enrolling in coaching institutes does not guarantee success, a natural aptitude for the subject might.


The idée fixe of these Dalit historians that how can upper caste minorities represent the professional academic majority considering intelligence to be socially determined is answered precisely by the fact, that the number of eligible candidates (i.e. qualified for appearing in professional entrance examinations) produced by the overwhelming majority of the backward castes (including SC/STs) who constitute the bulk of the population is  miniscule compared to the dominant numbers produced by minority upper castes due to lack of basic education in  the former. Naturally, the staggering number of eligible candidates of the general category enhances the probability of producing more intelligent and competent students in their ranks. By depriving millions of basic education, we deprive them of equality of opportunities. What we instead gain through reservation is equality of outcomes for the creamy layer.


The absence of merit destroys excellence and ushers a wave of mediocrity rendering people incapable of competence forever which has been the bane of free India. This can be substantiated by the fact that despite a grueling 5.5 years of the MBBS course, SC/STs students lag way behind general students as reflected in the results of the All India Post Graduate Medical Entrance exam 2008 where a SC candidate with Rank 100 had an overall rank of 4500, whereas a ST student with rank 100 had an overall rank of 12,000! In contrast, a General category student with Rank 100, had an overall rank of 101. That means that amongst the top ranking 100 students, only 1 was from the SC/ST category!  Suffice to say, the reserved category students are afraid of open competition from general category students and for good reason.


But even this performance is far more creditable than the dismal figures we have for cut-offs in IIT JEE undergraduate entrance exams which were as low as 1, 4 and 3 for Math, Physics and Chemistry respectively. The inherent ineptitude of these students for a course as tough and challenging as engineering at IIT-JEE makes them susceptible to grave depression and even suicide.


This is the reason that anti-reservationists decry any more reservations, them being no solution since even after 60 years the SC/ST list has not witnessed a single deletion of any caste proving that not one of them has sufficiently progressed to be set aside from the gambit of reservation, but is instead burgeoning, testifying to the growing backwardness of India. For India is the only nation of the world where people take great pride in calling themselves backward. When demands for claiming backwardness are not met, they culminate in social tensions, in large scale violence and destruction as in case of Gurjars Vs the Rajasthan Government.


And what about South India, dubbed as India’s better half and repeatedly showcased as the proof for successful implementation of reservations. The NSSO survey reveals the astounding truth that in the land of reservations, in rural TN only 4/1000 ST, 3/1000 SC and 13/1000 OBC female graduates exist.  In total, only sixteen out of every thousand people are graduates, i.e. 1.6% graduates in rural TN. Enough to exemplify the failures of reservation.


This is where we get back to the judgment which despite upholding the validity of reservations has tremendous possibilities for it challenges the notion of caste as the sole criterion for determine legitimacy for reservation and in essence considers reserving only the deserving who have been robbed of their privileges by a dominant minority or the creamy layer constituted by crooked politicians and their cronies in the pseudo-intellectual crowd. It is indeed unfortunate that this move for segregating the creamy layer has not been extended to SC/ST reservations.


Such progressive intellectuals and leaders who have their own doctrinal axes to grind will fail to realize why the Youth for Equality movement was dissatisfied by the offer for compensation of seats for that was not its goal. It was not for personal promotion but eclipsing an inglorious tradition. Their was a sincere attempt on their part to highlight the moral bankruptcy of all political parties of India who while denying bread and education to its masses, championed retrograde quota policies in order to foster their own vested interest of securing the prosperity of this creamy layer and lead further to a caste based balkanization of India by accentuating hatred and hostility amongst the feuding masses.


Pseudo arguments about caste oppression in India in their talk abound despite the fact that all Hindus irrespective of caste could occupy no senior position in the administration of foreign Muslim and British governments and thereby suffered varying degrees of persecution for the last 1000 years.


A century ago, there was a young man with a dynamic vision who believed that education was the manifestation of the perfection already in man. He wanted that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet. Can these wonderful precepts of Swami Vivekananda be actualized amidst these backward looking reservation policies? This is the question that every concerned citizen of India must ask himself.


Ref: http://www.boloji.com/analysis2/0333.htm