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

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Exasperating Justice


In the current political dispensation in India, both the central and state governments have been on a spree to expand the social basis of the quota system, making it more inclusive by inflating and even encroaching on the original list of Scheduled Caste(SC) and Scheduled Tribe(ST) reservation beneficiaries. These governments have provided economic backwardness as the justificatory reason in support of their decision for such expansion. Arguably, this reason is inadequate inasmuch as the economic backwardness criterion adopted by these governments leaves out social groups that are much more economically backward from their quota consideration. The question that has to be raised is: Why does the lexical difference principle stop at the 10% and 13% castes? This principle would expect the government to start from the most economically backward social groups across the social spectrum. The answer to this question possibly could be found in the politics of the new quota system. According to this politics, the minorities may not be the key to the electoral success of the party currently in power.

In addition to this, the new quota policy has another rough edge to its angularity. The quota for new reservationists tends to deviate from the “progressive” principle that was visualised by the Constitution makers. In the original constitutional framework, the quota system was introduced with the purpose of keeping in control the particularly upper-caste bias that was thought to be a hindrance in appointing qualified candidates from the scheduled categories. It is for this reason that India unlike the United States (US) adopted the reservation quota rather than affirmative action, which is only an initial enabling condition that is expected to ultimately realise the outcome or actual placement in the service. Put differently, affirmative action, does not guarantee the outcome. The new quota policy that would be soon underway may neutralise the element of caste-based bias on the ground, that both the selector as well as the competitors, by and large, would share the same dominant social background. The question then would be whether the selectors will adopt a more abstract criterion of recruitment, or the more biased criterion such as sub-caste within the upper castes.

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Updated On : 24th Jul, 2019
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