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

A+| A| A-

Fragmenting the Principle of Reservations

The majority judgment of the Supreme Court favouring the 10% reservation quota for economically weaker sections (EWS) may be considered by some as a welcome step on the grounds that it addresses the question of economic disadvantage. It is needless to mention that such a judgment takes into consideration only one component, that is, material disadvantage suffered by some members from the categories, which hitherto did not fall within the purview of any reservation category. One may not deny that such a judgment, in theoretical and abstract terms, does promise to reach out to those who are supposed to be economically disadvantaged. However, one may also raise other equally valid concernsdoes this judgment address the question of defining an ever-expanding sphere of disadvantage? The editorial comment in the current issue of EPW succinctly foregrounds the bareness of the 10% quota for EWS. As the editorial comment suggests, such a judgment seeks to narrow down the principle of social justice to pragmatic policy interventions. Following from the thrust of the editorial comment, it is necessary to reiterate that the reservation policy is based on the principles of social justice and equality. Most importantly, dignity has been the normative basis of both the social thought of modern India as well as the Indian Constitution, inspiring the themes of non-discrimination and equality of opportunity outlined in Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution.

In this regard, it is important to trace, very briefly, the genealogy of the normative thrust of reservations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries social thought, which, among other things, was based on the moral justification that was provided by the far-sighted rulers of the princely states such as Mysore and Kolhapur. The statutory reservation quota that was provided to the Scheduled Castes and a host of non-Brahmin castes by these rulers in education and administration of these states was supported by a moral justification.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Or

To gain instant access to this article (download).


Pay
INR 59

(Readers in India)


Pay
$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.