ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Social Exclusion and Jobs Reservation in India

The root of the problem of poor dalit achievement in India lies in the many dysfunctional primary and secondary schools in the villages and towns. Affirmative action policies, which are implemented to boost a deprived group's employment rate, suffer from several defects, in particular, they have only a small effect when the group's educational base is low. Social exclusion robs people of their "confidence" and this loss adversely affects their capacity to function.

An earlier version of this article was prepared for the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division of Social Policy and Development for presentation at an Expert Group Meeting on Policies to Advance Social Integration, 2-4 November 2009. Comments from participants are gratefully acknowledged.

The term “social exclusion” – meaning the process by which certain groups are unable to fully participate in the life of their communities and the consequences thereof – has, from its origins in the writings of René Lenoir (1974), spawned a vast and eclectic literature as the list of things that people might be excluded from has, like Topsy, just “growed”. Silver (1995), for example, itemises some of these: inter alia livelihood; secure, permanent employment; earnings; property; credit; land; housing; education, skills and cultural capital; the w elfare state. The basis on which people are excluded also comprises a long list (DFID 2005): age, caste, gender, disability, ethnic background, HIV status, migrant status, religion and sexual orientation. Such an uncontrolled proliferation of items has invited the inevitable criticism from some experts in poverty and development epitomised by Oyen’s (1997) d ismissal of social integration/exclusion as “an umbrella concept for which there is limited theoretical underpinning”.


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