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Affirmative Action Policy Issues and Other Related Issues

Affirmative Action Policy Issues and Other Related Issues: Recently, the government was lauded for introducing reservation for OBCs in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and this decision has once again started the debate on caste census and affirmative action.

Affirmative action, which was envisaged at the time of the establishment of the republic, is indeed one of the remarkable provisions introduced by the framers of our constitution. It has historically been very important in propounding the principle of justice in a country with a highly unequal and oppressive social order like India.

It cannot be denied that the provisions of the reservation have been one of the main characters in the success stories of Indian democracy, but at the same time, they have also given rise to many problems and need urgent policy attention and debate in this regard. 

Need for reservation in the country

  • To remove the historical injustice being done to the backward castes in the country.
  • Providing suitable opportunities to the backward classes as they cannot compete with those who have access to resources and resources for centuries.
  • To ensure adequate representation of backward classes in the services under the State.
  • For the advancement of backward classes.
  • To ensure equality on the basis of merit i.e. to bring all the people on the same level first and then to evaluate them on the basis of merit.

What are the problems with the current policy of reservation

No Equality: Through the reservation of seats in the political and public institutions of the state, it was thought that hitherto marginalized groups who have been facing oppression and humiliation for generations would eventually lead to power-sharing and decision-making.

lost its share in the processes. will be able to obtain. However, this strategy of addressing the handicapped does not necessarily help in creating equality of life opportunities for many groups in our heterogeneous society.

The problem of objectification: The reality of the present scenario is that this system suffers from the problem of objectification. On sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes, Justice G. The figures released by the Rohini Commission report provide a good concise approach to understand this.

Based on the last five years’ data on appointments in central government jobs and admissions to central higher education institutions for OBCs, the commission has concluded that 97 percent of the central OBC quota benefits only 25% of the castes of this category. have been found.

983 OBC communities (which is 37% of the total) have zero representation in central government jobs and admissions in central universities. Simultaneously, the report states that only 10% of OBC communities have captured 24.95% of jobs and admissions.

Lack of data: It is important to note that the Rohini Commission figures are based only on institutions that come under the purview of the central government. There is a lack of any clear or reliable data on the socio-economic conditions of various social groups at the state and more local levels of society.

Caste is still tied to income level: Even in the emancipation stage, castes are tied to more traditional sources of income and unable to take advantage of the opportunities created by the opening up of the economy.

In the absence of grassroots social security, the vast majority of marginalized people are still forced to wander the waiting rooms of history and wait for the light of the state policy grid.

The Expert Committee of the Equal Opportunity Commission, 2008, in its comprehensive report submitted to the Ministry of Minority Affairs, made several recommendations. However, little policy progress has been made in this regard.

Successive governments have been reluctant to engage in such broadly transformative policy choices and have almost always pursued immediate and short-sighted political gains.

Demands of Marginalized Sections: There is now a strong demand from the marginalized sections who have been deprived of the benefits of reservation to consider such policy options that can complement the existing system of reservation.

Heterogeneous distribution of reservation: The skewed distribution of reservation has also hindered the solidarity among the lower caste groups.

Road ahead

Re-calibration of affirmative action: It is essential that the benefits of affirmative action reach the poorest of any caste. There is a need for a mechanism that can bridge this gap in the current implementation of affirmative action and make the system more responsive and responsive to inter-group demands.

Need for Evidence-Based Policy: There is an urgent need to develop a wide range of context-sensitive and evidence-based policy options that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of specific groups.

Institutional arrangements: There is a need for the creation of an institution such as the ‘Equal Opportunity Commission’ of the United States or the United Kingdom that can perform two important but interrelated functions: the socio-economic-economic status of different communities, including race, gender, religion, and other group inequalities.

To build deprivation index from census based data and rank them for formulation of tailored policies. Conducting audit work on non-discriminatory and equal opportunity performance of employers and educational institutions and issuing codes of good practice in various sectors. This will facilitate policy formulation and monitoring at the institutional level.

Need for Comprehensive Caste-Based Census: Conducting a socio-economic caste-based census becomes a necessary pre-condition for any meaningful improvement in the affirmative action system in India. Thus, the need of the hour is to include the caste census with the general census.

Strong Political Will: A strong political will is necessary to find a balance between justice for the backward, equality for the forward, and efficiency for the whole system.


Thus, it is necessary to place the issue of reservation in a new framework that takes proper care of the changes taking place in the Indian society and economy. The framework should be such that it helps to balance quality and equity in a better way.


Q: What is ‘affirmative action POLICY’?

A: Affirmative action is a policy in which a person’s color, race, gender, religion, or national origin is taken into account to increase the opportunities provided by business or government to a vested section of society. Affirmative action is designed to increase the number of people in certain groups of people in businesses, institutions, and other areas of society in which they have historically been underrepresented. It is often considered a means of countering historical discrimination against a particular group.

Q: What is the reservation system?

A: Article 46 of the Constitution provides that the State shall take special care of the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the society, especially the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation. The provision of reservation in educational institutions has been made in Article 15(4) while the provision for reservation in posts and services has been made in Article 16(4), 16(4A), and 16(4B) of the Constitution. Some other provisions have also been included in the Constitution to protect and further the interests and rights of Scheduled Tribes in various fields so that they can be included in the mainstream of the nation.

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