The Challenge of Positive Discrimination in India.


The paper discusses the programme of positive discrimination (PD) in India, which is confined largely to the state and does not extend to the private sector, as do affirmative action programmes in the US and elsewhere. PD policies and programmes emerged in India in the early 20th century, and were given a constitutional basis in 1950. The paper discusses the principles underlying these programmes and policies, and some of the debates around them. It then looks at the achievements, both political and economic, and highlights their limited nature. Given these outcomes, however limited, programmes of positive discrimination cannot be considered redundant, even six decades after their inception, as many had hoped they would be. The paper ends by reviewing some of the challenges the programme faces today.

PD in India is directed at members of the Scheduled Castes (SCs), the Scheduled Tribes (STs), and more recently members of the 'other backward classes' (OBCs).


CRISE Working Paper No. 55, 33 pp.

The Challenge of Positive Discrimination in India.

Published 1 January 2009