Diversity in Indian Workforce: Laws and Policies


Diversity in business refers to the recruitment of workers from all backgrounds irrespective of race, religion, disability, gender, or status. The law governing the provision of equal employment to all is clear. However, most organizations have not adopted diversity, and thus discrimination of the minority groups is a common phenomenon in most countries. For instance, in India, people are grouped into castes, which pave the way for discrimination of the minority groups (Singh 594).

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However, the Indian government has illegalized discrimination in the hiring process in an attempt to embrace workforce diversity in the public sector. From the 1950s, the Indian government has been making legislation aimed at abolishing caste-related discriminations, which have characterized the job market in the country (Thorat and Attewell 4141). Despite the existence of laws against favoritism, caste-related discrimination cases continue to be reported.

The caste classification is hereditary, and eliminating it is an arduous task as ruled by the Supreme Court in India. However, the efforts made by the government of India towards protecting the interests of the minority groups cannot be ignored, since changes have so far been noticed. The initiatives created by the Indian government have enabled many lower-class caste groups to secure places in administrative positions.

This paper analyzes the issue of diversity and recognition of the existence of various groups in the job market based on the Indian system of job opportunities. The paper will give a walkover approach to the provisions of the Affirmative Action (AA) and Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) legislation, coupled with assessing their applicability in the Indian system.

Background information

The caste system in India is an ancient system that provides room for the reservation of job positions for a given group of people (Thorat and Attewell 4141). Arguably, the system came into existence before the colonization of India by Britain, it persevered the colonization period, and it exists even in contemporary times. Caste is a Hinduism system, although, in the recent past, it has spilled over to other religions in the country. The system is said to have gained popularity during the colonial period (1860-1920) as the British divided the Indian community into castes under the divide and rule policy, thus reserving certain jobs for specified castes (Pio 324).

The British gave senior administrative jobs to the upper castes and overlooked the lower castes during recruitment. However, the lower castes protested the policy by pushing for its revision and their consideration thereof in administrative jobs. The protest led to the alteration of the policy, and the British government resolved to reserve some government jobs for the lower caste groups.

However, the British administration did not succeed in implementing the Affirmative Action and the Equal Employment policies, and upon the acquisition of independence by the Indians, the system prevailed with only some reforms being made to the caste system (Thorat and Attewell 4142). The new system after independence divided Indians into two castes, viz. the scheduled caste, which is also known as “Dalit,” and the scheduled tribes, popularly known as “Advasi” (Singh 599).

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The Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action refers to the constructive strategies adopted by an employer with the aim of increasing the minority representation in the workplace (Shiva 209). Affirmative action outlines an employer’s basis of recruiting as well as offering promotions to certain groups of people referred to as the minorities. Affirmative action is a moral and societal compulsion designed to address historical injustices on top of getting rid of the current consequences of such historical injustices (Thorat and Attewell 4141).

The minorities in society include physically challenged persons, females, and the old. Different countries implement affirmative action in different ways, depending on their systems of administration.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)

Equal Employment Opportunity is a set of laws and principles that prohibit employers from recruiting staff based on their racial and ethnic backgrounds (Singh 601). The laws accord each citizen the right to enjoy the benefits accruing from a certain job opportunity.

Affirmative Action in India

The Indian government acknowledges the existence of historically discriminated groups in the country (Pio 319). The government has made steps to compensate the groups for long discrimination. However, the efforts have not brought major changes due to opposition from the upper castes. Some scholars attribute the failure to the politicization of the issue since key politicians use the issue merely to win votes from the minorities (Thorat and Attewell 4141).

The failure is further compounded by the controversy that exists on the legality of the division based on castes, especially after the 2007 Supreme Court’s ruling that castes are hereditary and hardly changeable (Shiva 203). There exists a constitutional crisis on the issue since Article 17 of the constitution acknowledges the illegality of castes in the reservation of slots both in public universities and in the public sector (Singh 596).

The majority of jobs available for the Indians are in the public sector. The reservations implemented by the Indian government have facilitated the minorities’ recruitment into the public sector even though the sector is dominated by the upper caste.

With the diversity in religion and race across the country, there have been calls from both the local and international business communities for the government to drop the caste system and embrace the requirements of equal employment opportunities in order to address the diversity issue in the workforce (Pio 328).

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The 1932 conference is probably the earliest move by the government to counter discrimination based on social backgrounds (Shiva 206). The then Britain prime minister set aside some slots for the minority groups. The groups were assigned some electoral seats that they would contest in an election, only involving voters from that class (Thorat and Attewell 4142). The seats were reserved exclusively for the depressed groups.

Diversity has been facilitated by the enactment of article 15, which illegalized discrimination based on castes (Pio 321). A census report released in 2000 indicated that the minority groups held 17% of jobs in the public sector, as an indicator that the government is determined to facilitate diversity in the job market (Singh 594). The Indian government classifies jobs in the public sector into groups A to D. Group A is the senior-most and highly paid class, while D entails the lowest and poorly paying jobs (Thorat and Attewell 4141).

The number of employees from the lower caste in all the job groups has increased tremendously through extra efforts are required to ensure that the minorities are represented adequately (Shiva 203). The representation of the minorities in high office comes out clearly in their election to senior government positions. For example, K. G. Balakrishnan was elected as the chief justice in 2007, while Meira Kumar was elected as the speaker of the national assembly in 2009 (Shiva 207).

In 1979, the government established the Mandal Commission to investigate the caste-based discrimination (Thorat and Attewell 4142). The commission recommended the introduction of affirmative action based on Indian laws, and it proposed the reservation of jobs for lower caste groups. Based on the report by the commission, the lower castes received a reservation of 27% of administrative jobs in the public sector (Pio 318).

In addition to the reserved jobs, the minorities also had 27% of slots in public universities reserved exclusively for them. However, the proposal did not materialize as some activist staged protests immediately the report was released, thus forcing the government to postpone its implementation. The government thereafter implemented the recommendations, and up to date, 27% reservation of slots in the public sector is for the minority and the poor in society in addition to the 22.5% reservations for the same groups.


The contemporary world has a diversity of people emanating from different racial and religious backgrounds. Some set standards require the equal representation of all in the job market. In India, the caste system has been in force since the colonial period, and it has provided incentives for discrimination of the minorities in the country. Under the system, Indians were divided into castes, and only the upper castes had access to job opportunities in the public sector.

However, the government of India has embarked on addressing the social injustices that the minorities were subjected to the courtesy of this retrogressive system. The government’s efforts have gone a long way in addressing the issue of diversity in the job market, and statistics indicate that the number of minorities in the public sector has tremendously increased. The government of India has adopted affirmative action and equal employment opportunities in a bid to address the issue.

Works Cited

Pio, Edwina. “HRM and Indian epistemologies: A review and avenues for future research.” Human Resource Management Review 17.3 (2007): 319-335. Print.

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Shiva, Vandana. India divided: Diversity and democracy under attack, New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011. Print.

Singh, Devinder. “Indian cultural values and ethos explained for the decision makers.” International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management 3.5 (2010): 592-606. Print.

Thorat, Sukhadeo, and Paul Attewell. “The Legacy of Social Exclusion: A correspondence study of job discrimination in India.” Economic and Political Weekly 42.41 (2007): 4141-4145. Print.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, January 3). Diversity in Indian Workforce: Laws and Policies. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/diversity-in-indian-workforce-laws-and-policies/

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"Diversity in Indian Workforce: Laws and Policies." StudyCorgi, 3 Jan. 2021, studycorgi.com/diversity-in-indian-workforce-laws-and-policies/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Diversity in Indian Workforce: Laws and Policies." January 3, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/diversity-in-indian-workforce-laws-and-policies/.


StudyCorgi. "Diversity in Indian Workforce: Laws and Policies." January 3, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/diversity-in-indian-workforce-laws-and-policies/.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Diversity in Indian Workforce: Laws and Policies." January 3, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/diversity-in-indian-workforce-laws-and-policies/.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Diversity in Indian Workforce: Laws and Policies'. 3 January.

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