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Reservation Policy and its Implementation across Domains in India   
Reservation Policy and its Implementation across Domains in India
An Analytical Review
Niranjan Sahoo
Hard-bound Book (6¼" x 9¼") :   Pages : 112
2009  Edition   :  ISBN - 978-81-7188-759-0
Price : INR 595 / US $ 39.95
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India runs the world's oldest and one of the most comprehensive affirmative action policies in the form of reservations or quotas for its disadvantaged sections. Ever since its adaptation, this critical public policy remains the most controversial and polarising public policy that the Independent India has adopted as yet. While much of the national preoccupation over reservation have been devoted to debate its necessity and relevance in addressing exclusion and inequality, the country still seems to lack a data-based understanding of its enforcement across different domains. How earnestly state and its agencies have enforced the reservation policies? We know less about the trends of implementation in different domains and how or what percentage of population among these social groups have benefited from it. Fact is there are very few credible research studies on the issue of affirmative policies in India. This publication is an attempt to fill some of the void by compiling data on key domains of reservation policy apart from flagging crucial issues relating to linkages among the three key domains of reservations, namely, higher education, employment, and political representation. A comparison of all three domains in terms of implementation of reservation policies, across different time periods (e.g., pre- and post-Mandal phases) and among different regions, provides useful insights about these linkages. In doing so, the work throws some critical insights on the processes at work, and identifies areas for further research.


Niranjan Sahoo is a Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi and a Visiting Fellow with University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as a recipient of ASIA Fellow Award. He has more than eight years of research experience in dealing with diverse political economy and governance issues pertaining to India. At ORF, he has been specialising on number of public policy issues particularly power sector reforms, public services delivery, local government and political economy. Affirmative action and issues of access and inclusion are some of his current concern. Currently, he is undertaking an extensive review of various affirmative options available in private sector in the world. His most recent publication was a monograph on “Politics of Power Sector Reforms in India”. Other than policy analysis, he has worked extensively with number of national level civil society organisations on issues of social equity and inclusion. He also regularly contributes to national dailies and current affairs journals.



1. Introduction

  • The Scope of the Present Work

  • Methodology and Database

  • Chapterisation

2. Evolution of Reservation Policies

  • Affirmative Action: A Brief History

  • Reservation and the Post-Independent Dilemmas

  • The Other Backward Castes and the Reservation Policy

  • Courts, Commissions and Dilemmas of Defining 'Backwardness'

  • The Mandal Commission

  • Court's Tryst to Define 'Backwardness'

3. Reservation and Public Employment

  • Relaxations and Concessions

  • Status of Implementation

  • Public Employment and SC, ST and OBCs: Current Status

  • Representation in Central Public Sector Units (CPSU)

  • Representation in Higher Education Institutions

  • Status of Representation in Non-Reserved Public Institutions

  • Summary of Trends

4. Reservation and Higher Education

  • Literacy and Enrolment: SCs, STs, OBCs versus Others

  • Enrolment: State Level Patterns

  • Higher Education: Current Scenario

  • Current Attendance

  • Trends of Participation in Different Academic Disciplines

  • Participation at the State Level

  • Trends of Participation in Specialised Courses

  • Summary of Trends

5. Reservation and Political Representation

  • Status of Political Representation

  • Legislatures: The Lok Sabha

  • Reservations at the Middle and Lower Government Positions

  • Political Representation of OBCs: Some Trends

  • Summary of Trends

6. Conclusion and Issues for Further Exploration

  • Public Employment

  • Higher Education

  • Political Representation

  • Issues for Further Research



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