This article is a contextualized explanation of affirmative action policies and focuses on how the policies have fared in the Indian context. The article has focused on the assessment of the affirmative action or reservation policies as they are referred to in India. The plural Indian society is an ideal example of caste and identity based socio political structure, where contradictions rule strongly and govern the peace of the socio political set up. The reservations have a long history and were seen as a remedy for the diversity discord. Caste had been playing its dominant role as the prime divisive tool and keeping the society heirarchised. The constitution of India had been the central domain of activity where time and again amendments and clauses were added to adjust the provisions for the deprived lot. The Mandal commission brought to light the OBC issue which had been simmering for a while. The OBC demands made the reservation issue highly politicized and complex. Proliferation of groups in the wake of Mandal furore added pressure on the reservation policies and as a result of which, reservation policies were increasingly seen as rights. When assessing the policies, one cannot deny the fact that they have played a significant role in ameliorating the conditions of the underprivileged. There had been redistribution of goods so that those with a history of discrimination were compensated for being deprived of equal moral status. However this had not spread evenly throughout the beneficiary groups. Yet some significant and noteworthy progress has been made, job reservations had enabled them (the deprived lot) to acquire influential roles and their participation had also increased. These positive results are accompanied by their inherent drawbacks. The policies are confronted with the challenge being posed by the narrow sectarian interests who want to use the reservations to foster political ends. The alienation which has been building within the non beneficiaries and the consequent hatred which it amounts to is creating tensions in society. The institutional mechanism of the Indian social and political set up is making every possible effort to have an integrated outlook, and reflect homogeneity as far as respecting individuals without thinking about caste considerations is concerned. What is needed is to make a shift from the rights view and focus on the policy design so as to suit the needs of all. A thorough appraisal of the policy structure is the need of the hour. The article will revolve around the dominant role of caste in the Indian society, followed by the rights and policies as per the Indian constitution and the landmark events in the evolution of reservations in India. The article ends with the assessment of the whole situation prevalent in India.
Cite this article:
An Assessment of Rights and Affirmative action Policies in India. Int. J. Ad. Social Sciences. 2017; 5(2):89-98. doi: 10.5958/2454-2679.2017.00008.1