Sameer Pandit


In this article the author applies the Rawlsian principles of justice, which lay down a theory of fair equality of opportunity, to examine the Indian reservation policy. Both, in principle, seek to mitigate the arbitrariness of birth and provide individuals with an 'equal start' in life. Although reservations seem justified from a theoretical angle, the historical politicisation of caste has led to the distortion of the policy from being one that seeks to promote equality to a policy that preserves social inequalities and hierarchies. This has been one of the major causes that have prevented the envisioned objectives of the reservation policy from being realised. The problem may, however, be overcome by replacing the purely caste based criterion with one that takes into account economic backwardness as well and by expanding the scope of affirmative action beyond reservation.