Affirmative action cannot ensure social justice due to the mismatch between the opportunities and claimants. Discuss along with ways to eliminate caste based disadvantages. Also, examine the proposal for sub-categorisation of OBCs to make affirmative action in India more equitable.

Affirmative action cannot ensure social justice due to the mismatch between the opportunities and claimants. Discuss along with ways to eliminate caste based disadvantages. Also, examine the proposal for sub-categorisation of OBCs to make affirmative action in India more equitable.

Approach:

  • Introduce with how public policies have limited scope in ensuring social justice
  • With data, explain mismatch between government jobs and claimants
  • Discuss ways to eliminate caste based disadvantages
  • Explain the proposal and need for subcategorization of OBCs
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

The biggest challenge India faces in ensuring social justice is that the groups perceived to be disadvantaged consist of a very large segment of Indian society. There are demands from various groups are for reservations in higher education and government jobs but public policies like reservations are highly limited in scope in achieving social justice.

The National Sample Survey (NSS) data from 2011-12 show that about 72% of the people claim to be Dalits, Adivasis and OBCs. On the other hand, less than 7% aged 25-49 have a college degree while less than 3% of the whole population is employed in government and public-sector jobs. This means a vast proportion of the population eligible for reservations must still compete for a tiny number of seats and jobs which clearly shows any benefits of reservations will only reach small percentage of population.

Ways to eliminate caste based disadvantages:

Focussing on eliminating discrimination: The benefits of reservations come too late in the life of children of disadvantaged groups. Improving quality of education for all, including those from marginalised groups, must be a first step in addressing caste-based inequalities.

Ensure benefits of reservation are wide spread among the disadvantaged groups: Often, the same person takes advantage of reservation at multiple levels in education and employment. Also, often multiple people in same family line claim the benefits. One way out is to limit the use of quotas to once in a person’s lifetime.

Sub-categorisation of OBCs:

Currently, there are allegations that OBC reservations are being cornered by only a few castes. Sub-categorisation of OBCs is another way to ensure benefits of reservation are wide spread as they will ensure that even the most discriminated among OBCs will also benefit. The Union Cabinet in 2017 approved a proposal for setting up of a Commission under article 340 of the Constitution to examine the issue of sub-categorization of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

Way forward:

There are practical challenges facing sub-categorisation as good quality of reliable data is not available on castes. One way to attain is to include caste data in Census 2021. Thereafter, linking benefits to Aadhaar could ensure that reservation benefits are not captured by just a few. However, the only way to ensure social justice to all is to create an enabling environment for greater opportunities in education and employment.

Subjects : Editorials

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