Affirmative Action In India: A New Paradigm

Akash Kumar - Zakir Hussain College, Delhi University

Affirmative Action in India: A New Paradigm

Akash Kumar, Political Science Honours (Zakir Husain Delhi College, Delhi University)


This policy paper focuses on a number of concerns and flaws in India's affirmative action plan structure and nature. This study divides the issue into two sections: reservations and welfare initiatives aimed at decreasing caste-based prejudice on the ground, notably in rural India. This is a critical problem because without an equitable society, no dignity will be guaranteed, and the country will continue to be entangled in political and social issues. This study attempts to establish a grassroots initiative structure aimed at fostering and maintaining social peace. The major thing that current policies lack is a focused strategy to addressing caste-based inequities. Furthermore, some flexibility in dealing with the dynamics of reservations is absent, as a result of which the subject has been politicised over the years has become a weapon for vote collection during elections. This study paves the path for possible improvements in the reservation pattern and welfare scheme system, making it less contentious and more inclusive in reasonable ways, and attempting to pave the road for a better set of progressive results. As is clear, the number of crimes committed against marginalised people is increasing, and the overall expenditure on their welfare is also rising continuously. The administration has been unable to determine who is denied what. There are also doubts about the necessity of reservations in higher education.[1] also, Affirmative action is confined to participation, which only impacts numbers in the polity and society, not power relations.[2] In terms of facilities and resources, exclusion has also become a major concern. Some policies do not help the target population, and benefits are spread unevenly within the target group. Schemes from a new viewpoint are required, as are modifications in reservation policy, such as the identification of creamy layers and disadvantage requirements for eligibility. This white paper will focus on innovative policy design approaches for dealing with these types of difficulties. This article will provide solutions to the problems with the current reservation policies' functioning, as well as new techniques for dealing with the (mostly) rural society's regressive conduct. Finally, we will assess the potential effects of the techniques suggested as policy reforms.

1. The two fault lines: problems with the ongoing system

In India, the problem with affirmative action policies has two dimensions: reservations and targeted welfare schemes. Both are severely hampered in their efforts to create a more inclusive society.

1.1 Reservations

  • Political tool: There is a pervasive prevalence of absolute reliance on reservations. As political mobilizations have shown, the issue focuses around who is qualified for reservations and who is not, and governments frequently fail to properly correct the situation. Some experts argue that the present system of reservations further entrenches the caste problem.[3]

  • Education: There are debates about reservations in higher education and private organizations. Even putting aside the social turbulence that the policy would generate for a minute, the statistic is the most compelling reminder that even if restrictions were expanded to the private sector, it would not achieve much in terms of equalising access to excellent employment.[4]