[AI] FW: Discrimination in the IT industry - what next ?

harish kotian hpkotian at rbi.org.in
Wed Jul 11 01:56:49 EDT 2007


Hi Sudhir

I think, approaching media at this time is premature. It may be more harmful 
than do us any good.

At this point, I think a pragmatic approach would be to take is to first 
feel the water. I  would appreciate if Shanti and Anubhuti
would reflect on it as they have a better understanding dealing with the HR 
folks.

The next option would be if any NGO would come forward.

In the last option, it has to be a one man army. One should be very careful 
in both the verbal language and body language approaching this task.
Harish.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Sudhir R (NeSTIT)" <sudhir.r at nestgroup.net>
To: <accessindia at accessindia.org.in>
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2007 9:07 AM
Subject: [AI] FW: Discrimination in the IT industry - what next ?


Folks,

Sorry to keep bothering you with  the issue of discriminatory practices in 
the IT industry.  But, discrimination is discrimination whether by banks, 
insurance companies, airlines, civil services or educational institutions 
and I feel we need to take both reactive and pro-active action.

Can I assume that the silence of the group to my earlier mail suggesting a 
few courses of action to be a sign of consensus and move ahead with  them ? 
I would appeal to all of you to share your views, concerns, suggestions etc 
in how to proceed with this matter which affects more people than we may 
expect.

At the same time, IT sector is too valuable a source of employment for the 
disabled and we need to proceed cautiously in the matter.  However, we 
cannot leave the issue to individual resources to sort out with their 
employers as they often lack the legal literacy, negotiating power and 
stamina to fight alone.  , Just as the group has reacted together to 
discriminations in other fields, we need to do something in this matter 
also.

If you feel the matter is too sensitive to be discussed on the list, please 
let me have your take in the matter privately at sudhir.r at nestgroup.net.

Thanks and rgds

RS
M: 98 472 76 126

-----Original Message-----
From: accessindia-bounces at accessindia.org.in
[mailto:accessindia-bounces at accessindia.org.in]On Behalf Of Sudhir R
(NeSTIT)
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 3:01 PM
To: accessindia at accessindia.org.in
Subject: [AI] Discrimination in the IT industry - what next ?


Hi folks !

Thanks to Subramani, the Deccan Herald of Saturday, July 7, 2007, has 
carried an article exposing the discriminatory practices followed by some IT 
companies against the disabled.

Now that the issue is in the open, here are a few courses of action that we 
may contemplate :

a) Write letters to the Editor voicing our protests.  That will incentivise 
them to carry the issue further.  The mail id is letters at deccanherald.co.in 
<mailto:letters at deccanherald.co.in>.

b) Bring the issue to the notice of industry bodies like CII, Nasscom etc. 
May be, someone like Asif can play the role of our advocate in this.

c) Bring the report to the notice of the PR managers of the companies 
concerned.  Companies are usually sensitive to adverse reports appearing in 
the mainstream media.

d) Take up the issue with authorities like CCPD.  This may have to be done 
by an NGO preferably.

We should bear in mind that our actions should not harm the interests of our 
friends who are on contract and also not result in IT companies 
cold-shouldering the disabled in the future.  So, kindly reflect on these 
courses of action and give your suggestions.  We will take action on all 
options (excepting the first) only after mutual discussions and coming to a 
consensus.

Pl give your considered opinions.

Rgds

RS
M: 098 472 76 126
---

Panorama
» Detailed Story

Darkness at end of the tunnel

By R Sudhir

Indian mindset has been historically biased against the people with special 
needs, and, despite all technological and managerial advancement this bias 
still
persists in the Indian IT sector.

Habib, 22, is a disillusioned youngster. The visually challenged from 
Kozhikode, Kerala, who is doing his Masters in English Literature at the 
local University,
had experienced the awakening of a new hope just a couple of months back. 
All that this hardworking lad had ever wanted to achieve in life was to get 
himself
a steady, teaching job in one of the numerous colleges; a job that would 
have ensured him a comfortable living, dignity in the society and the 
security
of assured employment.

However, a seminar that he had attended in May at Kochi had changed all 
that.  Resource persons from across the country, most of them visually 
challenged,
described how companies in the IT and ITES sectors were opening their doors 
to persons with disability. The IT majors, facing a severe shortage of 
qualified
human resources to meet the scorching pace of the business, were ready to 
recruit disabled youngsters if they had a graduation, were computer literate
and had good communication skills in English.

Habib intended to finish his course, move to Bangalore, get properly trained 
in facing interviews and make it to one of the numerous national and 
transnational
companies that were holding regular walk-in interviews for Persons With 
Disabilities.

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But, the dreams of Habib and several others have been shattered in a matter 
of months.  Stories of discriminatory practices followed by these leading 
votaries
of 'equal opportunity employment practices' started surfacing in the virtual 
communities of the disabled on the Web.  Initially the rumours were 
speculative,
but soon, the silent ones at the receiving end of such shameful practices 
started speaking about their experiences in these "progressive" corporate 
entities.

The charges levelled against these companies are more or less uniform. 
First, and the most serious, is about the actual nature of employment. 
Companies
are known to keep their disabled resources as contract employees for years 
together, often renewing their half-yearly contracts only on the last day.
While contract employment per se is nothing new to the IT industry, what 
makes this discriminatory is how these companies regularise the services of 
the
non-disabled resources.

Says Kala, 26, a University gold medallist in MA (History), who has been 
working on a contract mode with a software company in Bangalore," The 
company seems
to have no intention of regularising our services.  It is so frustrating to 
see one's peers and juniors being taken on rolls merely because they are not
disabled."

Interestingly, Kala's manager is quite pleased with her performance, but, 
cites unwritten directives from the top echelons as reason for not 
confirming
her services.

According to Suman, another visually challenged executive who has put in 
almost two years with a global IT giant that claims HR diversity as one of 
its
many guiding philosophies, she has been told not to compare her contract 
terms with those of her sighted peers and juniors who have been confirmed 
and
are moving up the career path.
Being a contract resource, she is also denied promotional avenues, access to 
the rich on-line learning resources on the company's intranet etc. When she
confronted her manager to know why she was not getting confirmed, the 
manager explained it was part of their global strategy to keep the headcount 
low.
 "But then, the contract system should apply universally," points out this 
disillusioned girl.

But, sadly, there is little that anyone can do in this matter since the 
Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and 
Full Participation)
Act, 1995 that gives protection of the rights of the disabled, does not 
apply to companies in the Indian private sector.  The office of the Chief 
Commissioner
for PWDs at the Centre and those of State level Commissioners are largely 
ceremonial posts that lack real authority.  Legal experts say that courts 
can't
also interfere in this matter since these contracts would be construed as 
voluntary and bilateral agreements.

At the end of the day, it is sad but true that the more the things change, 
the more they remain the same.  Indian mindset has been historically biased 
against
the people with special needs, and, despite all technological and managerial 
advancement this bias still persists in the Indian IT sector.  Will there
ever be light at the end of the tunnel for the persons in the gray zone?

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