Affirmative action. Or the reservation system. Is compensatory justice a justice? . Its a sensitive and complex issue that pits individual merit,social responsibility, economic injustice,privilege and social class into legislative melting pot where despite quotas, few of the oppressed community in India attains any measure of social mobility. In effect, they become part cannon fodder for the poverty bureaucracy and industry that is managed by the elite classes. It can be argued that the Indian quotas reinforce and promote the caste system. Apparently, over 85% of senior government post in India are held by high caste Hindus. But does the system have to be discarded?
Evidently, there is an issue with the public dialogue on the subject being driven by the requirements of rhetoric and the simplicity of ideology. The modus-operandi is to toss out some anecdotal evidence and then sprinkle it with a few facts, some truisms, and a few numbers all of which are taken out of context. This is followed by hauling butt back into the insular world of preconceived ideas marked by an absence of any consideration for the opposing viewpoint. At its core, disagreement about affirmative actions and the level playing field, equality of opportunity, are all arguments about justice. But, its an explosive issue when mixed with changing the existing social order. Never underestimate the forces of status and distinction:
Veblen conceives of status among humans as a stratification system, no different in principle from the hierarchies that structure social relations throughout the animal kingdom (from the “pecking order” among chickens to the dominance relations among our closest primate ancestors). It is grounded in judgments that establish an invidious comparison, which Veblen defines as a “comparison of persons with a view to rating and grading them in respect of relative worth or value” (1899, 34).Read More:http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~jheath/veblen.pdf
…“Aarakshan” is a Hindi word meaning reservation, or what they call quotas in India. A new controversial film on the subject concerns itself with quotas held for low-caste students in schools,… a policy mandated by the Supreme Court in 2008. The film has a bifurcated plotline; the sensitive half concerns an earnest college director (played by Bollywood giant Amitabh Bachchan), his devoted Dalit pupil, and an unscrupulous vice-principal who riles up the student body over whether seats should be set aside for low-caste students….
The program of reservations appears to have shown substantial redistributive effects in India. Access to education and jobs is spread wider in the caste spectrum than earlier, even though redistribution is not spread uniformly throughout the beneficiary groups which results in clustering. However, as in other societies this is likely a reflection of structural factors; the better placed enjoy a disproportionate share of the benefits in any government programnot including affirmative action. It seems that most Dalits( the lowest class) are not directly affected by affirmative action, but, reserved jobs bring a substantial increase in the number of families now free from extremely subservient roles.
Thus, affirmative action has kept the beneficiary groups and their problems visible to the educated public, without increasing the level of empathy for them beyond what is legally required. Like in America, affirmative action can be called a middling success. It has accelerated the growth of a middle class and brought individuals into some central, but mainly modestly upgraded roles likely considered unimaginable only a generation ago. In any event, the old caste system corresponded to a simplistic, non-technological economy and the caste system has been transformed into a very complex patchwork where even the exact number of caste divisions cannot be determined with certainty.
…The filmmaker, Prakash Jha, went to the Supreme Court himself Friday afternoon in an eleventh-hour effort to get the bans overturned; the court adjourned without ruling. For now, the film can’t be shown in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh or Andra Pradesh, where the governments have said it could provoke communal violence.Read More:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/asia-pacific/banned-bollywood-film-touches-a-social-nerve/article2128583/s
In America, there is no doubt Affirmative Action programs have seen significant gains for women and minorities, in terms of almost any metric. They are now also entitled to pay off their student loans like their former peer group.
l, severe inequities are visible and obvious, but the situation is superior with each passing decade. Nonetheless, opposition is substantial. Some respected black scholars have asserted that preferential programs victimize and stigmatize minorities, resulting in social friction. Ultimately, the question is whether preferential treatment programs are morally justified? What would Lincoln have done?
…Most of the attacks on Aarakshan allege that it is against affirmative-action quotas, although critics who have seen the film say both sides of the debate are presented in a painfully even-handed and didactic way. India’s state censor approved it, but after objections from leaders of low-caste communities, Mr. Jha agreed to delete some scenes perceived as “anti-reservation.”
The umbrage caused by a film not yet released speaks to the sensitivity of affirmative-action quotas here. India’s constitution, adopted in 1950, requires that 22.5 per cent of government jobs and seats in public education institutions must be reserved for people from “tribal” (aboriginal) groups and Dalit communities; few people take issue with this reservation. Read More:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/asia-pacific/banned-bollywood-film-touches-a-social-nerve/article2128583/
Caste discrimination runs deep in India despite government efforts since independence in 1947 to use affirmative action to wipe it out. India’s economic boom has further sharpened the divide, with much of its dividends accruing to the upper castes. Nevertheless, large sections of India’s upper castes are incensed over the quota policy, which ensures lower castes get spaces in the country’s highly sought-after medical and engineering schools, universities and jobs….Read More:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/12/aarakshan-bollywood-film_n_925166.html
Estimated to be over 2500 years old, the caste system has undergone many transformations, from the ancient varna system to the contemporary jati system1. The varna system divided the population initially into four and later into five mutually exclusive, endogamous, hereditary and occupation specific groups: the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, Sudras and Ati- Sudras. The last two comprised all castes doing menial jobs with the latter being considered “untouchables”, in that even their presence was considered polluting and thus was to be avoided2. The three higher varnas are often referred to as “caste Hindus” (upper caste Hindus) or as “twice born”, since (the men of) these castes enter an initiation ceremony (the second birth) and are allowed to wear the sacred thread. Together, the upper castes constitute 17-18 percent of the population. The Ati-Sudras are roughly 16 percent of the population. Numerically, the largest varna is Sudra, constituting nearly half of the population. Read More:http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTRANETSOCIALDEVELOPMENT/Resources/Affirmative_Action_India_Ashwini.pdf
However, the implementation of the program in government jobs and educational institutions is mechanical and insincere. Most institutions get away by simply stipulating the mandatory quota; given the lack of a monitoring agency, there is neither the accountability to fill the quota nor penalties for loopholes used to circumvent quota restrictions. Follow-up support programs to enhance the performance of quota entrants are non-existent. Thus, mandating the requisite number of seats is often the beginning and end of the implementation of the Indian affirmative action program. Further, with liberalization of the economy, quotas in government institutions are becoming increasingly redundant because of the drive towards privatization. Thus, there is now a strong demand for reservations in the private sector that is predictably being opposed by the corporate world.Read More:http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTRANETSOCIALDEVELOPMENT/Resources/Affirmative_Action_India_Ashwini.pdf