New Delhi, May 6: Indian industry would fight reservation if imposed through a legislation, but the weaker sections of the society should be taken on board development, Vice-President of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Chairman of the Bharati Group Sunil Mittal said.
''Anything that is going to hurt industry's competitiveness will have to be fought'', Mr Mittal said in an interview to the CNN-IBN's Devil's Advocate programme.
However, Mr Mittal told that if India has to achieve progress ,a large part of the weaker sections of the population would have to be taken on board.'' I believe this is something industry must have right in front of their agenda'', he said.
Mr Mittal opposed any move to take a roll call to find out the social or economic status of the people employed by the industry.
But he rejected the accusations by some segments that the industry actively discriminated while hiring employees. The Bharati Group chief, who has announced a Rs 200-crore project for opening schools in villages, said the industry was a victim of a false impression of discriminating against the weaker sections.
He asked the government to give two years' time to prove that its commitments on the ''affirmative action'' were genuine. '' I would say give us two years for affirmative action by industry on a voluntary basis. If it fails then let the Government start using these (compulsory) measures,'' he added.
The CII, which has opposed tooth and nail the legislation on the reservation policy, has set up a Task Force under the Chairmanship of Mr J J Irani to come out with specific affirmative actions that the industry can initiate.
Mr Mittal believed that his views about voluntary action within the next two years to carry the weaker sections along were shared by majority of the Indian industry.
He said when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave a call to the industry to give openings to the weaker sections, he did not mean only Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. ''For our point of view weaker sections are all those people who are economically backward.
I would take them as all those people who are under privileged today. Everybody,'' he said.
Mr Mittal said he did not think that the government would enforce reservation through a legislation.'' I think the government will fall short of going through with legislation. I believe the government has the good of the nation at heart and there is not much good that's going to come out of legislation,'' he said.
The leading industrialist who is diversifying from the telecom to agro-based industries said that all the 630 million people of working age do not have equal opportunites. Over 55 per cent of India's population is below 25 years of age. Their aspirations and needs have to be met ; or else there would be a tension in the society, he added.