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

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Case for Caste-based Quotas in Higher Education

The roots of discrimination in India go so deep that social and economic disparities are deeply intertwined, although in increasingly complex ways. We still need reservations for different groups in higher education, not because they are the perfect instruments to rectify long-standing discrimination, but because they are the most workable method to move in this direction. The nature of Indian society ensures that without such measures, social discrimination and exclusion will only persist and be strengthened.

Redesigning Affirmative Action

Arguing for better policy design in affirmative action, this paper presents an illustrative model of a feasible alternative to caste quotas. The proposed model is evidence-based, addresses multiple sources of group and individual disadvantage (caste, region, gender and rural/urban residence), as well as interaction effects and degrees of disadvantage. Such an approach allows us to demonstrate that affirmative action is not about "appeasement" but about eliminating sources of tangible disadvantage in our unequal society.

Scheduled Tribes Bill, 2005

Conservation is believed to be most effective when people, who depend on a particular resource, are made partners in managing that resource. Instances have favourably recorded the involvement of local people in forests or wildlife after they were accorded a stake in the protection or propagation of the same. The scheduled tribes bill, being currently debated by the government, promises to be the first step in laying the foundation for a more democratic management of forests, essential for both forests and forest communities to survive.

Justice for Dalits among Dalits

In a recent judgment, which is replete with arguments against reservations as such, the Supreme Court has argued that apportionment of the reservations made to SCs or STs to subgroups within cannot be done by the state legislatures. Indeed, even Parliament does not have the competence to do so since the Constitution has intended that the SCs and STs are an indivisible, homogeneous entity.

Reservations and Casteism

The growth of caste consciousness has hurt the development of progressive social consciousness among the oppressed and exploited millions of the labouring classes because caste ideology has made workers casteists and not fighters for secular anti-poverty programmes.

Reservation and Efficiency

The corporate sector needs to keep in mind that anti-discrimination measures like reservation are needed for growth as much as equity. It is necessary to emphasise that anti-discrimination policies will not only provide fair and non-discriminatory access to historically excluded and discriminated groups like the dalits, but simultaneously remove constraints imposed by caste discrimination on labour markets, and thereby induce competitiveness and economic growth.

Implications of Reservations in Private Sector

The proposal to extend reservations to the private sector has generated mixed reactions. The private sector is divided on the idea. The issue may go yet again to the Supreme Court. The implications of the proposal could be that labour productivity in the private sector may decline, the undeserving among the SC/STs and OBCs may get most of the benefits as they have managed to in the public sector in the past and for the really marginalised SC/STs reservations may not mean much as they are not equipped to avail of the benefits.

Globalisation and Affirmative Action

In the context of a concerted assault on affirmative action policies that began more than 10 years ago and the current dominance of the right-wing in political discourse and action in the US, the US Supreme Court's rulings in the two University of Michigan affirmative action cases last month are certainly surprising. Few would have expected a rightward drifting court to endorse so firmly a left-leaning policy like racial/ethnic preferences. How can this remarkable outcome be explained?

Scheduled Castes and Tribes

The persistence of constitutionally sanctioned privileges to the scheduled castes and tribes by way of job reservations and preferential treatment in educational institutes beyond the period originally specified by the Constitution has divided Indians into two divisive camps - pro and anti reservationists. The latter argue that merit has often taken second place as a result of such policies that anyway benefit only a certain section, already privileged, among the disadvantaged. However, as data collated from various sources reveal, the SCs and STs continue to be poorly represented in government services and they score far lower than most other sections in several development indicators, chiefly literacy.

Changing Patterns of Social Mobility

How successful have state sponsored efforts been at redressing the issue of caste-based inequality in India? This paper analyses the impact of such efforts by probing trends in social mobility and exploring the relationship between caste and occupation. The primary focus is to explore what, if anything, has changed and have such changes made India a more fluid and mobile society than before.

Caste Discrimination and UN

The United Nations Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination, concluding its discussion on descent-based discrimination, strongly condemned caste practice in south Asia. This describes a new framework for moving towards the elimination of caste-based, descent-based discrimination.

Caste and the Metropolitan University

In January the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) rusticated 10 dalit students and registered police complaints against them for resorting to violence on the campus. While the students were confined in a police lock-up for six days, several groups unsuccessfully attempted to persuade the university authorities to reconsider its decision. The Andhra Pradesh High Court has directed the university to take an immediate decision on the appeal filed by the students. What caused the incident and what is at stake in this conflict?

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