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

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Caste Census

While the censuses in colonial India categorised and enumerated the various castes, the censuses in independent India only enumerate the population of castes and tribes according to the central government list. With the Supreme Court requiring fresh data on the other backward classes, how will the identification of the OBC from the 4,000 castes in the country be undertaken?

Dalit Christians: Betrayed by State and Church

Dalits who have converted to Christianity find that not only are the benefits of reservation not extended to them in contravention of constitutional provisions but even the church and the non-dalit Christian community actively discriminate against them.

Caste, Courts and Reservations

By staying the operation of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act 2006, the Supreme Court has ensured that “elite” central institutions of higher learning such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) remain elitist...

Creamy Layer' Principle: A Comment

Discussion ‘Creamy Layer’ Principle:A Comment The matter of excluding the “creamy layer” from quotas is the subject of two comments and the author of the original article (November 11) replies to the comments. K SUNDARAM I n an elegant note (EPW, November 11, 2006), S Subramanian offers a strong...

On Backwardness and Fair Access to Higher Education

Against the backdrop of the policy of reservation of seats in higher education for the Other Backward Classes in India, this paper examines two inter-related yet distinct issues: (i) the use of economic criteria for assessing the backwardness of different social groups, and (ii) assessment of fairness of access to higher education of an identified "backward" social group. On an analysis of the NSS 55th round surveys for 1999-2000 we show that, on a range of economic criteria, there is a clear hierarchy across (essentially) caste-based social groups, with the scheduled castes (in urban India) and the scheduled tribes (in rural India) at the bottom, the OBCs in the middle, and the non-SC/ST "Others" at the top. However, for the poor among them, there is more of a continuum across caste-groups, with surprisingly small differences between the OBCs and the non-SC/ST Others. It is also shown that for the OBCs as a group, and especially for over 70 per cent of them who are above the poverty line, the extent of their under-representation in enrolments at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels is less than 5 per cent. Therefore, a 27 per cent quota for the OBCs, which would effectively raise their share in enrolments to over 50 per cent when their share in the eligible population is 30 per cent or less, is totally unjustified.

Dalits: Prejudice in Institutions

Prejudice in Institutions Reservations may give students from a Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe background access to higher education, but it is not uncommon for these students to be discriminated against after they enter these schools of learning. Recently, the spotlight was turned by the media on the plight of these students in some of the institutions of higher education.

Social Inequality, Labour Market Dynamics and Reservation

This paper brings two new elements to the debate around expanding reservation in centres of excellence in higher education. First, it separately estimates upper caste Hindu profiles in education (dropout and completion rates), employment and relative incomes and establishes that UCHs are significantly better off in all these parameters than scheduled tribes, scheduled castes and other backward classes. It also establishes that in urban India, ST, SC and OBC have very similar profiles and are at a great distance from the UCHs. In rural India, OBCs are situated in the middle - between ST and SCs on the one hand and UCHs on the other - but again at a significant distance from the latter. Second, it links this privileged positioning of UCHs with changing labour market dynamics in the 1990s and suggests that as a result these castes dominate access to the best jobs in the urban economy. Access to high quality tertiary education has then become key to accessing the most dynamic segment of a decelerating labour market. It uses evidence from both of these to intervene in the current debate around expanding reservations to OBCs in public institutions of higher learning and argues that the above make expanding reservation imperative

Karnataka: The Muted Anti-Reservation Agitation

The current protests against reservation in Karnataka may appear to be largely political in nature. But the protests overlook the historical nature and the wider repercussions in the polity, society and economy that the issue of reservations has had in the state. As a group, the "other backward classes" have come to constitute a politically significant section of the populace. But even as the protests unfold over reservations in government-run higher education institutions, these overlook the fact that the OBC community is in a state of flux and divisions within them indicate that a new social coalition is in the making.

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.

Merit of Reservations

Upper caste youth are not willing to tolerate the sharing of government educational facilities with youth coming from historically oppressed communities. But reservations and nation building are not antagonistic. The democratic and rational path charted by Ambedkar should be allowed to run its course; otherwise, an anarchist trend is bound to set in among the SC/ST/OBCs. Let the upper castes decide which course is better for the progressive transformation of this nation.

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.

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