Country Perspectives on Diversity and Equal Treatment
Edited by Alain Klarsfeld
Rana Haq and Abhoy K. Ojha 1. Introduction India is unique in its outcome-based focus on numerical reservations, or quotas, for three designated groups: the Scheduled Castes (SC), the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and the Other Backward Classes (OBC) as part of its affirmative action policies. India’s reservation system is based on earmarking a certain percentage of positions for persons belonging to these three socially and economically marginalized and disadvantaged groups. The three main sectors federally regulated by the central government under these policies are public employment, public education and legislative organizations. However, despite protection for over 60 years, these groups continue to be significantly underrepresented in all three sectors (Deshpande, 2006; Hasan, 2009). There may be a variety of reasons for this underrepresentation, but discrimination against these sections of society is argued to be a major reason (Hasan, 2009; Jodhka and Newman, 2007; Madheswaran and Attewell, 2007; Thorat and Attewell, 2007). Reservation had been used as a tool to implement affirmative action before India’s independence in 1947. Independent India adopted the same policy framework. After the formal adoption of the Constitution in 1950, there have been no substantive changes in the basic affirmative action prescription. Reservation as a tool for affirmative action has been adopted by the central government as well as the state governments. States have implemented reservations in educational institutions and public organizations. Some have also incorporated reservation for women and certain sections of religious groups in different spheres of activities. Since each state has tailored these policies...
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